May/June 2022 USDF Connection

Page 1

May/June 2022

Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation

Overcoming Adversity Riders Share Their Stories (p. 40) Get Your Horse Competition-Fit with Dr. Hilary Clayton (p. 34) Show-Ring Look Book (p. 46)

Breast-cancer survivor JJ Tate and Derby

Lebanon Junction, KY Permit # 559



Be as one

...the secret to ignite your dressage performance

Official Partner of British Eventing

Official Partner of the German Equestrian Federation (FN)

For more information visit

Official Saddle of the United States Eventing Association


Someone Wanna Grab the Fly Spray? Now’s not the time for your horse to be bothered by biting insects.

Keep them away with

“GO WAY!” Natural Insect Repellent.

An emulsified blend of carefully selected essential oils to repel insects naturally, including Port Orford Cedar, Peppermint, and Citronella. Available in Spray, Balm (with applicator) and Roll-On form. Also in gallon refills. Non-harmful to bees.

Strong and Effective….. Without Harsh Chemicals

Visit us at


The Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Stephan Hienzsch (859) 271-7887 • EDITOR Jennifer O. Bryant (610) 344-0116 • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Hilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS EDITORIAL ADVISORS Margaret Freeman (NC), Anne Gribbons (FL), Roberta Williams (FL), Terry Wilson (CA)

An official property of the United States Dressage Federation

TECHNICAL ADVISORS Janine Malone, Lisa Gorretta, Elisabeth Williams SENIOR PUBLICATIONS COORDINATOR Emily Koenig (859) 271-7883 •

YourDressage delivers exclusive dressage stories, editorial, and education, relevant to ALL dressage enthusiasts and is your daily source for dressage! Look for these featured articles online at

GRAPHIC & MULTIMEDIA COORDINATOR Katie Lewis (859) 271-7881 • ADVERTISING SALES REPRESENTATIVE Danielle Titland (720) 300-2266 •

USDF OFFICERS AND EXECUTIVE BOARD PRESIDENT GEORGE WILLIAMS 421 Park Forest Way, Wellington, FL 33414 (937) 603-9134 • VICE PRESIDENT KEVIN REINIG, 6907 Lindero Lane, Rancho Murieta, CA 95683 (916) 616-4581 • SECRETARY MARGARET FREEMAN 200 Aurora Lane, Tryon, NC 28782 (828) 859-6723 • TREASURER LORRAINE MUSSELMAN 7538 NC 39 Hwy, Zebulon, NC 27497 (919) 218-6802 •



“A Tale of Three Trakehners”

REGION 1 DC, DE, MD, NC, NJ, PA, VA BETTINA G. LONGAKER 8246 Open Gate Road, Gordonsville, VA 22942 (540) 832-7611 •

An adult amateur in Region 8 shares how her three fabulous ambassadors for the Trakehner breed are a testament to 300 years of selective breeding.

REGION 2 IL, IN, KY, MI, OH, WV, WI DEBBY SAVAGE 7011 cobblestone Lane, Mentor, OH 44060 (908) 892-5335 • REGION 3 AL, FL, GA, SC, TN SUSAN BENDER 1024 Grand Prix Drive, Beech Island, SC 29842 (803) 295-2525 •


REGION 4 IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD ANNE SUSHKO 1942 CliFFord Street, Dubuque, IA 52002 (563) 580-0510 •

“The Dancing Grandpa”

REGION 5 AZ, CO, E. MT, NM, UT, W. TX, WY HEATHER PETERSEN 22750 County Road 37, Elbert, CO 80106 (303) 648-3164 •

An equestrian shares about getting back into horses as an adult, and the one-of-a-kind equine that came into her life, dubbed the “Dancing Grandpa” in his senior years.

REGION 6 AK, ID, W. MT, OR, WA NOAH RATTNER 25033 SW Pacific Hwy, Sherwood, OR 97140 (503) 449-1274 • REGION 7 CA, HI, NV CAROL TICE 31895 Nicolas Road, Temecula, CA 92591 (714) 514-5606 •


REGION 8 CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, RI, VT HELEN VAN DER VOORT 8 Boulevard West, ph4, Pelham, NY 10803 (917) 834-2635 •

“From Colic Survivors to the National Stage”

REGION 9 AR, LA, MS, OK, TX BESS BRUTON 5696 Piper Lane, College Station, TX 77845 (662) 702-9854 •

A Region rider 4 shares about the resilience of her incredible Appaloosa mare, who not only survived what was thought to be a fatal bout of colic, but also returned to the top levels of the sport.

AT-LARGE DIRECTORS ACTIVITIES COUNCIL SUE MANDAS 9508 Bridlewood Trail, Dayton, OH 45458 (937) 272-9068 • ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL BARBARA CADWELL 324 Benjamin Street, Fernandina Beach, FL (715) 350 1967 • TECHNICAL COUNCIL SUE MCKEOWN 6 Whitehaven Lane, Worcester, MA 01609 (508) 459-9209 •

COMMUNITY “Flying Close to the Sun”

We kicked off our new series highlighting para equestrians with this story, where a para rider with dreams of gold shares about the freedom she finds on the back of a horse.

It’s YourDressage, be a part of it! Visit for all these stories & much more!

USDF Connection is published bimonthly by the United States Dressage Federation, 4051 Iron Works Parkway, Lexington, KY 40511. Phone: 859/971-2277. Fax: 859/971-7722. E-mail:, Web site: www. USDF members receive USDF Connection as a membership benefit, paid by membership dues. Copyright © 2022 USDF. All rights reserved. USDF reserves the right to refuse any advertising or copy that is deemed unsuitable for USDF and its policies. Excluding advertisements, all photos with mounted riders must have safety head gear or USEF-approved competition hat. USDF assumes no responsibility for the claims made in advertisements. Statements of fact and opinion are those of the experts consulted and authors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or the policy of USDF. The publishers reserve the right to reject any advertising deemed unsuitable for USDF, as well as the right to reject or edit any manuscripts received for publication. USDF assumes no responsibility for unsolicited material. All materials must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Questions about your subscription or change in address? Contact USDF Membership Department, 859/971-2277, or POSTMASTER: SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO: USDF, 4051 IRON WORKS PARKWAY, LEXINGTON, KY 40511. Canadian Agreement No. 1741527. Canada return address: Station A, P.O. Box 54, Windsor, Ontario N9A 6J5.

2 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

USDF Connection 46


Volume 23, Number 7

Columns 4 Inside USDF

Why I Came Back

By George Williams



Two Steps Forward, One Step Back By Jennifer O. Bryant

Departments 18


Be Your Horse’s Mentor By Beth Baumert


The Judge’s Box

Freestyle Continuing-Ed Program Offers Live and Virtual Options By Terry Ciotti Gallo



When There’s Too Much Thunder Down Under By Jennifer Mellace


40 46 50


By Penny Hawes


By Amber Heintzberger

Fashion Forward With the attire rules busted wide open, we wondered what dressage competitors are doing with their newfound freedom. Enjoy this “look book” and get inspired.

By Jennifer O. Bryant

The Ultimate Rider Award Meet a few of the riders who have earned USDF’s new Diamond Achievement Recognition

By Amy Swerdlin

Sport Horse

Is Your Horse Fit to Compete?

By Hilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, FRCVS

Back in the Saddle How some USDF members have overcome major physical or psychological setbacks to get back to their beloved horses and dressage


Promoting Diversity in Dressage

54 60

Tack Shop

Upgrade Your Ride

My Dressage

The Pressure to Succeed By Katherine Walcott

Basics 8 Contact 12 Sponsor Spotlight 13 Collection 56 Rider’s Market 58 USDF Connection Submission Guidelines

On Our Cover

58 USDF Office Contact Directory

Breast-cancer survivor JJ Tate with Derby. Story, p. 40. Photo by RBM Photography.

59 Advertising Index USDF CONNECTION | May/June 2022


Inside USDF Why I Came Back USDF’s president had stepped down, but now he’s back. He explains why and outlines his goals.


ecently someone asked me how it feels to be back in the saddle again. My first thought was that it was an odd question, given that I never quit riding. Then I realized that the question was referring to my return as president of USDF. Some of you, like that questioner, may be wondering why would I take on the president’s role again. The answer may simply be that the USDF is in my blood. Immediate past president Lisa Gorretta had the difficult job of leading the USDF through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. She put her heart and soul into the task, and she navigated USDF through the crisis extremely well. When I was asked if I would consider allowing my name to be put forward for president from the floor of the USDF Board of Governors assembly at last year’s virtual convention, I at first was uncertain, even reluctant. Ultimately, though, I felt that I have the experience and knowledge to help USDF come back from the pandemic-related closures and cancellations and to continue moving forward with its many programs and undertakings. These include some serious responsibilities, such as the education of national-level dressage licensed officials and the USDF Instructor/ Trainer Certification Program. Both are vital to the protection and preservation of the integrity and principles of dressage.

I consider myself fortunate to remain involved in all levels of our sport, from entry level to international competition. I believe that, in order to remain effective and sustainable, USDF always has to look at the big picture— the full spectrum of the dressage community. In deciding to run for president again, I thought that there are two key areas in particular in which my expertise could be especially helpful as we move forward. The first is the relationship between USDF and our national governing body (NGB) for equestrian sports, US Equestrian (aka USEF). USEF is the equestrian NGB as designated by the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, and USDF is the official USEF dressage affiliate organization. I understand USDF’s role as an affiliate and how important it is to have a good working relationship with USEF, based on respect and an understanding of the roles of both organizations. It means that USDF

4 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

must be the experts in the dressage discipline, and I have an understanding of how to make certain that USDF is considered as such. This is crucial to maintaining a good relationship with USEF, and in fact I would argue that USDF has become the leader in affiliate relations with US Equestrian. Over the past six years, USDF has taken on some major new responsibilities. Our current agreement with USEF states that the USDF is in charge of educating dressage judges and technical delegates. In my view, judges are among the primary keepers of dressage. If our sport is going to remain intact, we need well-educated judges to protect the principles of classical dressage training and riding. The second key area concerns the other primary keepers of dressage, our instructors and trainers. The USDF needs to be working with USEF in providing continuing education for our dressage professionals, as these are the people who oversee the riding and training done by most adult amateurs and youth in our country. We need to make sure that all dressage enthusiasts in the US have access to qualified instructors. The better prepared and educated our dressage professionals are, the more they can help adult amateurs and youth reach their goals. Whether we are speaking about judges and competitors, adult CONTINUED ON PAGE 10


By George Williams, USDF President

Photo: Sharon Packer Photography 4414 SW College Rd, Suite 1422, Ocala, Florida 34474

Great American Insurance Group, 301 East Fourth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Coverage is underwritten by Great American Insurance Company, Great American Alliance Insurance Company, Great American Assurance Company and Great American Insurance Company of N ew York, which are authorized insurers in all f ifty states and D.C. Great American Insurance Company is the owner of the following registered service marks: The Great American Insurance Group eagle logo and the word marks Great Americann and Great American Insurance Groupp are registered service marks of Great American Insurance Company.

Ringside Two Steps Forward, One Step Back Progress in dressage is most decidedly not linear

of battling life-changing or even life-threatening conditions to get back in the saddle are truly profiles in courage. Meet some of them, including cover rider and breastcancer survivor Jessica Jo “JJ” Tate, in our story “Back in the Saddle” on page 40. Reading about what these riders have overcome and what they continue to face each day, you may feel somewhat abashed at your own minor gripes. I know I was. Mostly you may feel the force of their determination to get back to horses and riding, whether as profession or pastime, as the activity that grounds them and makes life more meaningful. Also in this issue, we examine two of the many aspects that can affect the dressage journey. I asked longtime USDF Connection contributing editor and renowned equinebiomechanics expert Dr. Hilary Clayton to write a “Sport Horse” article on the subject of equine fitness. She got so enthusiastic about the topic that she asked if she could make it a two-parter. Nobody in their right mind says no when Hilary offers to share her knowledge,

6 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

so enjoy part 1 of “Is Your Horse Fit to Compete?” on page 34. We can’t easily equip our horses with heart monitors to evaluate their fitness (I asked), so Hilary delves into how best to ensure that our mounts are conditioned to meet the physical demands of dressage, for optimum performance and career longevity. Another aspect of dressage that can significantly derail saddle time is one that many riders are embarrassed to bring up: rubbing and chafing in the area where the, ahem, rubber meets the road. Search online and you’ll find voluminous threads devoted to the topic of how to alleviate pain in the nether regions while riding. A few discreet inquiries to instructors and fellow riders will almost certainly reveal sufferers in your midst. I myself have been plagued by rubbing and chafing for years, and it has taken much trial-and-error experimentation to (mostly) solve the problem. Let’s get this issue out in the open, I decided, when I asked freelance writer Jennifer Mellace to tackle it for her “Rider” column. To find out what she learned about causes and solutions, turn to page 26. May your own dressage journey be less pain and more gain!

Jennifer O. Bryant, Editor @JenniferOBryant



njoy the journey”—that’s the clichéd phrase all dressage riders hear in reference to the long, winding, sometimes frustrating road up the levels. There have been times during my own dressage career when I would have liked to tell someone where they could stuff their “journey” advice. Having just been grounded for the better part of a year following a colic surgery, for one. After a grim lameness diagnosis, for another. Or at a show at which my scores were lower than the prices in a bargain bin, confidence went out the window, and that damned pyramid of training suddenly seemed as eternal and impossible to scale as the pyramids at Giza. These and other setbacks, including the day-in, day-out hiccups—lost shoes, saddle-fit problems, equitation struggles, training plateaus—are all part of “the journey.” As a one-dressagehorse owner, I don’t take setbacks well—as Olympian Carol Lavell once told me, “When all of your eggs are in one basket, you live in fear,” and boy, was she right—and so I will never “enjoy” these twists of fate but have learned to try to at least accept them, as in, “This too shall pass.” In one aspect of the journey, however, I have been fortunate: I have not (yet, anyway) sustained an injury or illness serious enough to sideline me for a significant period of time. But there are plenty of dressage riders who have, and their stories

USD F 2022

Member Perks Partners Discounts available to 2022 USDF members

Educational videos from the top dressage trainers around the globe. 50% discount on membership

Dressage Today OnDemand

Dressage training video library with training advice and tips from the world’s most respected judges and trainers. 45% discount on membership

Horse & Country H&C is the leading international equestrian sports network, available globally via connected TVs, mobile, and web and on leading digital and pay-TV platforms. USDF Members receive a 15% discount on a subscription for H&C’s annual membership, H&C+

Premier Equestrian

Full line of exceptional products including dressage arenas, footing, horse jumps, and barn and stable equipment. 5% discount on all Premier Equestrian items


Custom banners to fit every business need, budget, and size. 20% off all orders


24/7 nationwide roadside assistance for you and your horse.

Join USRider with no activation fee for a savings of $29 off the normal new membership rate

Contact Praise for de Kunffy Thank you for publishing the article “Renaissance Man” in the January/February issue. I agree 100% with Charles de Kunffy about the importance of preserving the art of classical riding. I hope that more readers understand his words and appreciate this article. David De Wispelaere Wellington, Florida Is This Your Last Issue? (p. 33)

January/February 2022

Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation


How to Evaluate Sport-Horse Bloodlines (p. 44)

The Key to a Better Seat (It’s Not What You Think) (p. 30)

The Crowdfunded Horse: Creating an Ownership Syndicate









Lebanon Junction, KY Permit # 559



Mixed Review I love the new US Equestrian dressage rule change that allows competitors to wear dark- or light-colored breeches in competition (“Collection: US Equestrian Revamps Dressage Attire Rules, Relaxes Amateur-Status Requirements,” January/February). White is a terrible color for a sport that involves horse slobber and dirt unless you have a team to keep you away from slobber and dirt. What I did not like was the magazine’s reason for the new colors: “If you hate the way your thighs look in white breeches, you may now wear dark- or light-colored breeches….” First, you can wear them for any reason, not just if you hate the way your thighs look. Second, aren’t we past using this kind of language? Ruth Montague Chapel Hill, North Carolina



he photo on page 12 of the January/February issue was incorrectly credited. Credit is to Katie Lewis/USDF.

8 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

*Akhal-Teke Association of America American Connemara Pony Society American Dutch Harness Horse Association American Hackney Horse Society American Haflinger Registry American Hanoverian Society American Morgan Horse Association *American Mustang & Burro Association American Paint Horse Association American Quarter Horse Association American Rhineland Studbook American Saddlebred Horse and Breeders Association American Shire Horse Association American Trakehner Association American Warmblood Registry American Warmblood Society & Sporthorse Registry Appaloosa Horse Club Arabian Horse Association *Barock Pinto Association USA Belgian Warmblood Breeding Association -North American District Canadian Horse Breeders Association Canadian Warmblood Horse Breeders Association Cleveland Bay Horse Society of North America Clydesdale Breeders of the U.S.A. Curly Sporthorse International *Dales Pony Breeders Association Draft Cross Breeders & Owners Association Fell Pony Society of North America Friesian Heritage Horse & Sporthorse International Friesian Horse Association of North America Friesian Horse Society Friesian Sport Horse Registry Friesian Sporthorse Association German Sport Horse Association Gypsy Horse Registry of America

Gypsy Vanner Horse Society Holsteiner Verband - North American Breeding District Hungarian Horse Association of America International Andalusian & Lusitano Horse Association International Drum Horse Association International Georgian Grande Horse Registry International Rescue Horse Registry International Sporthorse Registry/Oldenburg NA Irish Draught Horse Society of North America Knabstrupperforeningen for Danmark (KNN) KWPN of North America New Forest Pony Society of North America *New Forest Pony Society of North America - Ambassador Performance North American Danish Warmblood Association North American Shagya-Arabian Society NorthAmerican Sportpony Registry Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry Oldenburg Horse Breeders Society/German Oldenburg Verband Percheron Horse Association of America Performance Horse Registry Performance Shagya-Arabian Registry Rheinland Pfalz-Saar International Swedish Warmblood Association of North America The Jockey Club Trakehner Association of North America United States Icelandic Horse Congress United States Lipizzan Federation United States P.R.E. Association *United States Trotting Association US Lusitano Association Welsh Pony and Cob Society of America Weser-Em Ponies & Small Horse Registry of the GOV Westfalen Verband NA *Denotes a new Participating Organization for 2022.

A complete listing of the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards Participating Organizations, program rules, and award standings are available on the USDF website at For questions e-mail

2022 All-Breeds Participating Organizations

These organizations, in partnership with USDF, promote and recognize a high standard of accomplishment within their breed, through their participation in the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards Program.

Inside USDF CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4 amateurs and professionals, or entry-level and high-performance riders, these are not “us vs. them” situations. Dressage enthusiasts in the US are a community. Instructor certification needs to be expanded. We need to develop more true professionalism to improve how we guide the uninitiated, to help make good dressage education more accessible to everyone and to provide a safe, correct learning and training environment for all horses and people. We are also a community of organizations. In addition to USEF and USDF, there are many others that serve the American dressage community: among them, USDF’s group-member organizations (GMOs), The Dressage Foundation, the US Equestrian Team Foundation, Dressage4Kids, and the American Horse Council. All of these groups need to work together for the good of our sport. Our goal must be to keep it a community while we expand our outreach.

IN THE NEXT ISSUE • The latest on laminitis • Dr. Hilary Clayton: Get your horse fit for the upper levels • Cross-training for riders 10 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

• Meet US national para-dressage coach Michel Assouline

USDF Salutes All the 2021 Breeders Championship Series Competitors including the Three-Year-Old Prospect Award winners

USDF Breeders Championship Series


2 White Feet

Hilltop Farm

KWPN North America

Horses Unlimited

For information about the series, locations, and dates visit


Official Joint Therapy Sponsor of USDF Title Sponsor

Official Equine Insurance Provider of USDF

Official Supplement Feeding System of USDF

Title Sponsor

Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championships

Adequan®/USDF FEI-Level Trainers Conference Annual Convention and Awards

Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championships

Presenting Sponsor

Supporting Sponsor

US Dressage Finals

US Dressage Finals


Presenting Sponsor

Supporting Sponsor

US Dressage Finals Official Supplier

Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championship Jackets 800-461-8898





USDF Breeders Championship Series




Collection Bits and Pieces from USDF and the World of Dressage ★ US Dressage Team Chosen for World Maccabiah Games ★ Meet USDF Certification Examiner Lendon Gray ★ ★ USDF Updates Regional Schooling Show Awards Program Rules ★ IN THE FRAME


Equestrian photojournalist and regular USDF Connection contributor Sue Weakley gets her pink on at the 2022 Challenge of the Americas presented by The Pink Hats in Wellington, Florida, in March. The benefit for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation features the Grand Prix Musical Quadrille Challenge. This year’s event included a moving pas de deux by breast-cancer survivors Shannon Dueck and JJ Tate (read Tate’s story on page 40 of this issue).



Collection COMPETITION US Dressage Team Selected for 2022 World Maccabiah Games

ON THE TEAM: 2022 US World Maccabiah Games dressage team member Lauren Sara. Riders will compete on borrowed horses at the event in Tel Aviv.

more than 10,000 athletes representing 80 countries and participating in 43 sports, the Games are the third-largest sporting event in the world. The quadrennial competition, sometimes called “the Jewish Olympics” and patterned after the

Olympic Games, is produced by the global Jewish sports organization the Maccabi World Union for Jewish and Israeli athletes. More than 1,000 athletes will represent the USA at this year’s Games. Learn more at or

FINANCIAL AID TDF Awards Barnett Fund Grant The Dressage Foundation, Lincoln, Nebraska, has awarded the first 2022 grant from its Maryal and Charlie Barnett Continuing Education for Dressage Instructors Fund. Maria Mendonca-Collito of Pennsylvania received a $1,500 grant to further her education as an instructor through the USDF Instructor/Trainer Program. Maria currently works with 35 students ranging from Introductory to Second Level. Her students’ ages span from nine to 72 years old. Interested instructors can apply for a grant to attend any portion of the USDF Instructor/Trainer Program, including workshops, precertification, and testing. To learn more, call (402) 434-8585 or visit

14 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

ALWAYS LEARNING: 2022 Barnett Fund grant recipient Maria Mendonca-Collito


A team of three dressage riders will represent the USA at the 2022 World Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv, Israel, July 12-26. The US equestrian contingent will also include a fourmember jumping team. Riders will compete on borrowed horses. This will be team member, coach, and chef d’équipe Rebecca Cord’s third trip to the World Maccabiah Games. Cord, 40, of West Grove, Pennsylvania, and Clarksboro, New Jersey, is an FEI-level dressage competitor who owns and operates a training and sales business in Clarksboro, New Jersey. She is a USDF bronze and silver medalist, a USDF L graduate, and a USDF- and ARIA-certified instructor. Aviva Nebesky, 63, of Bowie, Maryland, is a former social worker who now is a full-time equestrian professional. She specializes in teaching dressage to adult amateurs and to riders who struggle with fear issues. She has competed through Fourth Level and is a USDF bronze medalist and a USDF L graduate with distinction. A fashion designer by trade, Lauren Sara, 59, of Cochranville, Pennsylvania, is an adult-amateur competitor who has been riding since childhood. Her primary equestrian discipline is eventing, and she has competed up to Third Level in dressage and has earned her USDF bronze medal. Following the World Maccabiah Games, she plans to return her focus to eventing. International eventing and dressage competitor and longtime US para-dressage coach and chef Missy Ransehousen will travel with the team as an advisor. She is based out of her family’s Blue Hill Farm in Unionville, Pennsylvania. The 2022 edition of the World Maccabiah Games will be the third time in its 85-year history that equestrian sports will be included. Drawing



Lendon Gray, Bedford, New York Two-time US Olympian Lendon Gray gives back to the sport of dressage in nearly innumerable ways. One of her more prominent roles is that of an instructor-certification examiner in USDF’s Instructor/Trainer Program. Gray, who grew up in Maine, began riding before she could walk. During her competitive heyday, she rode in the 1980 alternate Olympics LEADER: Olympian, USDF and in the 1988 Seoul Games; certification examiner, and and she has trained horses to Dressage4Kids founder numerous national-champiLendon Gray with a D4K onship titles and other honors, horse and rider including the famous Grand Prix-level pony Seldom Seen. Gray hung up her spurs for good about 10 years ago, and today she focuses entirely on teaching, especially youth and young adults. She founded the organization Dressage4Kids, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018, to provide educational opportunities to help young riders and instructors develop to the best of their ability. How I got started in dressage: I grew up in Pony Club and was a successful event rider. I started to focus on dressage when I was 25. After judging a Second Level test, [1976 US Olympic team bronze medalist] Hilda Gurney told Seldom Seen’s owner that she should let me take him to Grand Prix. He was the first horse I trained to Grand Prix from the beginning. Why I wanted to be involved with the USDF Instructor/ Trainer Program: I was part of an amazing group that started the Instructor/Trainer Program. We wanted to try to improve the quality of teaching and riding in the US by helping instructors with a true system. What surprised me the most about the certification program: I continue to be surprised at what I learn from participants doing workshops and at exams! My horses: I have none now, but my best-known ones were Seldom Seen and my two Olympic horses, Beppo and Later On. Tip: Continue to seek knowledge. So many instructors feel they cannot take time from their business to gain more experience for themselves, but it is worth it in the long run. Read, watch, and ask questions. Contact me: or (914) 234-4158. —Alexandria Belton





Collection USDF BULLETINS Intermediate I & Intermediate II Reminder

For Adequan®/USDF year-end award purposes, Intermediate I and Intermediate II are not considered consecutive levels. See the USDF Member Guide for award requirements regarding consecutive levels.

Is Your Horse Declared for the All-Breeds Awards Program?

Declaring a horse for the 2022 Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards is easy! Simply submit a copy of your horse’s breed or performance registry papers along with a completed All-Breeds Awards declaration form and fee to USDF no later than August 1, 2022. Find the declaration form on the USDF website under Awards.

Applying for USDF Rider Medals Is Simple

After all award requirements are met for the USDF bronze, silver, or gold medals or freestyle bars, complete the easy online Rider Performance Awards application. Applications must be received by September 30, 2022.

2 DIVISIONS Art and Photography

3 AGE GROUPS 15 and under, 16 to 21, and Adult


J U LY 1

Master’s Challenge Award Available for Senior Competitors

USDF offers the Master’s Challenge Awards for members age 60 and older. Six levels of recognition are offered, and scores do not expire. See the USDF Member Guide for complete award requirements.

Regional Schooling Show Awards Program Rules Updated for 2022

The USDF has made several significant changes to the rules for its Regional Schooling Show Awards Program: • Score requirements have been reduced • Horse/rider nomination deadline has been removed • Nominee score-submission deadline has been removed. To learn more, visit the USDF website at

Annual Change of Region for Great American/USDF Regional Dressage Championships

Riders wishing to compete at a Great American/USDF Regional Championship in other than the region of residence associated with their membership information on file as of July 1 must submit a Change of Region form and fee. Find the form and submit online via the Great American/USDF Regional Championship Competitors page on the USDF website.

USDF Regional Adult Amateur Equitation Program Prizes

The USDF Adult Amateur Equitation Regional Finals presented by Big Dee’s Tack & Vet Supply will be held in conjunction with each of the nine Great American/USDF Regional Championship competitions. Big Dee’s will be providing champions with a $100 gift certificate; reserve champions, a $75 gift certificate; third-place finishers, a $50 gift certificate; and fourth-place finishers, a $25 gift certificate. For dates, locations, and qualifying requirements, see the USDF website.

for complete contest rules and entry form

2022 Great American/USDF Regional Championship Awards Announced

The grand prize winning entry will be used as the cover art for the USDF Member Guide.

(awards/other awards)

Champions in each region will each receive an embroidered vest provided by SmartPak and an embroidered stall guard, in addition to $437 in prize money. Reserve champions in each region will receive an embroidered saddle pad provided by SmartPak, in addition to $291 in prize money. See the USDF website for more information about the Great American/ USDF Regional Championships.

16 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION


EQUITATION REGIONAL FINALS presented by Big Dee’s Tack and Vet Supply

USDF Adult Amateur Equitation Regional Finals classes are held in conjunction with the Great American/USDF Regional Championships.

For more information visit







Be Your Horse’s Mentor For Olympian Sabine Schut-Kery, correct training is all about communicating with the horse in a way that he can understand By Beth Baumert Photographs by Meg McGuire Photography


abine Schut-Kery turned heads all over the world with her performance aboard Alice Womble’s Sanceo at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, where the US won a team silver medal. But Schut-Kery’s road to this pinnacle achievement was long and flavored with a career of extraordinary exhibition riding. Indeed, the first time I ever saw Schut-Kery was in the late 1990s at

Dressage at Devon in Pennsylvania, where she wowed the spectators with a riding and driving demonstration in which she drove one Friesian while riding the other. I had never considered such an extraordinary possibility and was beyond impressed. Schut-Kery was classically educated as both a rider and a driver in her native Germany. She moved to

EDUCATED: Jami Kment rides Gatino Van Hof Olympia, her 11-year-old KWPN gelding by Apache, in a lesson with 2020 US Olympic dressage team silver medalist Sabine Schut-Kery

18 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

the United States in 1998 to be the head trainer at Proud Meadows in Texas. There, she competed horses of all ages, from young horses to Grand Prix, and she became well known for those fabulous exhibitions. She’s no stranger to appreciative crowds! In 2005, she moved to California, where she trains and competes horses of all levels. In 2015, she was a member of the gold-medal-winning US team at the Pan American Games in Toronto. Soon thereafter, she was awarded The Dressage Foundation’s prestigious Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize two years in a row, and she used the funds to take Sanceo to Europe for training. Today she continues to advance her education under the brilliant eye of Olympian Christine Traurig. Schut-Kery’s own boutique dressage-training business, as you will read below, prioritizes quality over quantity, and her approach is based on a superior understanding of horsemanship. Beth Baumert: In your teaching, I love how you distinguish between schooling your horse and educating him. Sabine Schut-Kery: Yes, I think of educating the horse so that the rider acts as a mentor. When the horse makes a mistake, the rider should actually tell him—in a supportive way—what went wrong and how he can do it better. For example, if the horse loses his bend in a movement, be sure to mention to him that he lost his shape. That’s very fair. If you take action in the moment, he can

way you might tell your children, “HELLO!” But that’s a motivational aid, not an educational aid. It doesn’t tell your horse how to jump through the back and the base of the neck to the reins. It doesn’t explain how to take more weight behind. It’s an educational tool only in that it gives your leg aid a better voice. There’s a difference, and to me, that difference is very important. You get throughness from your calf. When you close your calf, he should get his hind legs under him and really show more thrust and more carrying power, too.


better understand what went wrong. And then repeat. In Germany, they tell us that horses learn from repetition. The horse memorizes and he recognizes our aids over time, and the rider needs to understand that and then use her aids as if using human language. For example, your aids can say, “I need a better reaction here.” The challenge of everyday riding is staying on top of the details, such as the quality of your horse’s reactions. I often ask myself, “Did he react correctly, or was it just OK?” If it was “just OK,” that’s not good enough. These are the tough questions that you need to ask yourself each day. It’s a matter of discipline and persistence in the pursuit of high quality. When you need a better reaction from your horse, is it appropriate to give a little kick instead of using the calf ? You don’t get throughness from a kick. That’s more of a reminder to be attentive, and it’s not always wrong. If my student says, “I’ve been squeezing and massaging with my calves and it isn’t working,” then as long as your horse isn’t too hot, you might give a little kick—in the same

What are some common rider problems with the unresponsive horse that’s not in front of the leg? Often, riders keep holding with the leg or the heel in the horse’s side when bringing the horse back. There’s something wrong with that situation because there’s a rhythm going on, and you want your leg to breathe and the heel to swing up and down in the rhythm of the gait. It’s like dancing. It’s rhythmic. Likewise, when the horse is in the wrong rhythm, the leg shouldn’t follow the horse’s rhythm. You want him to follow your rhythm. The rider can make the horse quicker with the leg, and then stay breathing with it. The horse will adapt to the rider’s breathing leg, not to a holding leg. Likewise, the rein breathes. I don’t need to actually see the rein breathing because the rider doesn’t throw the rein away, but the rein breathes. Why might the horse be unresponsive to begin with? The horse may actually want to react, but he’s usually unresponsive because he has stiffness related to not being “through.” Horses respond to softer leg aids when they’re supple, loose, and through. So is this one of the challenges of the warmup—to make the horse supple so he can be more responsive to the leg? Yes. Use of bending lines and

Custom-Fit Boots Made in the U.S.A

For over a century, the Dehner name has been proudly worn by young and old alike. Feel for yourself the comfort and fit that have made us one of the most sought-after boots in the business! Log-on today to view our full line of boots and shoes.

Tel: (402) 342-7788 * Fax: (402) 342-5444



Clinic figures such as circles, figure eights, and serpentines develop that suppleness. In bend, the horse should make a little space for your inner leg. Once you get him around the inner leg, then he can be in front of it. What is the most common problem you see as horses are developing collection? When you collect your horse, he must stay in front of the leg. He has to take more weight in the hindquarters and grow in the shoulders. Many horses just slow down and take little weird choppy strides, which is not true collection, and the horse is not in front of the leg. Some riders don’t realize how ground-covering the collected gaits feel, and some horses aren’t strong enough to truly carry more weight behind, so the stride gets choppy as he compromises for that lack of strength in the hind leg. The collected strides should become slower, not from laziness but because the joints bend more as the horse takes more weight behind. The horse with incorrect collection is usually trying to please the rider. For example, in preparation for the pirouette, the collected canter is sometimes so small that I could even walk next to the horse. It’s super-submissive—I’ll give you that—but it isn’t correct. The rider needs to keep that forward stride and add to bring him back with the hind legs coming under a supple body. The rider doesn’t collect by slowing the horse down with the reins. If you ride into collection in a forward way, the gaits improve. The gaits should never get worse when you collect the horse. That’s not always so easy to achieve. What tools do you suggest to help the rider get correct collection that is engaged and groundcovering? The horse can compress himself most easily with an exercise that naturally asks for engagement of the hind legs, like a shoulder-in. The shoulder-in helps you gather him

you. The shoulder-in educates the horse and helps him commit to a reaction that is forward and in front of the leg when you bring him back. Talk to us about what you call the body language of collection. In the posture of collection, I lift my chest up so my core is long and engaged. My hands are down, my shoulder blades are back and down, and I’m sitting down. Teach your horse this. Implement an agreement with him that he can rely on: You sit up in the posture of collection and close your legs, and he goes forward in balance, growing in front of you without speeding up.

THE POSTURE OF COLLECTION: Schut-Kery demonstrates how the rider’s body language asks the horse to collect: sternum lifted, core long and engaged, hands low, shoulder blades back and down

up: It compresses or collects the horse in a way that lets you in to his body. The horse that is learning collection knows the shoulder-in, and it’s ridden with the leg in a way that he understands. The shoulder-in asks the hind leg to come under and enables you to ride forward into collection more easily than when your horse is straight. It’s more advanced to half-halt and collect the horse when you’re going straight. That shoulder-in is actually the half-halt! The rider might think, “I will ride shoulder-in so I can halfhalt.” Shoulder-in doesn’t slow the horse down; rather, it lets you in to his body so you can collect him in front of you by adding energy. The hind legs come under so you can ride the shoulders up and in front of you. That’s an example of how you can educate your horse so he understands what he’s supposed to do. Everything is forward. Even the bringing back is forward and in front of

20 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

What other elements or aspects of training are key to developing collection? Straightness is necessary before you can ask the horse to take more weight equally behind. Overbending the horse like a banana is a common problem, and then he can’t transfer weight equally to the hind legs. If you inadvertently overbend your horse, you prevent the shoulders from turning. Then when the shoulders can’t turn, the horse slows down. How do you suggest that riders manage the inclination to overbend their horses? I ask them to bring the horse’s head to the inside without bringing the neck to the inside. Academically, that’s known as flexion in the poll. Use your inside wrist and say, “I want to see your inside eye.” That’s really difficult, but it’s how you want to go down the long side. The good news is that once you are successful, you can ride a shoulderin from that, you can ride a half-pass from that—you can ride anything. You don’t have to change anything because when you can do that, you gain access to your horse’s body. Can you say any more about educating the horse, especially for the rider who might not consider herself a trainer?

not? Those transitions develop a horse that is loose and in front of you, and when you get to the show, they are everywhere—and you want an 8 or 9, right? Why not? Speaking of shows, what about preparing for a competition? If I’m educating a horse, I don’t change the training plan because I’m going to a show. I just keep training, and then I show at whatever level I’ve achieved in the training.

FORWARD INTO COLLECTION: Schut-Kery’s 2015 Pan Am Games teammate Kim Herslow rides Elvis HI, a Lusitano gelding owned by Ailene Cascio

Yes. I often do an exercise in the walk first, just to get the feeling of it. Because the walk is slower, you can more easily figure out how to make your aids such that you get the right result. It is easier to make an agreement with the horse. That is educating him. I notice that you give your horses frequent walk breaks. Yes, and when they’re really stretching, the back is looser, so I encourage my horses to stretch and sometimes to stay connected in an extended walk. I also practice taking the reins in the transition to a marching medium walk, and I want him to slow down—not in a lazy way, but in a “gathering” way. Sometimes horses get hectic in this transition, so they need to be educated about the walk. Why have problems in the walk? It’s unnecessary if you educate the horse. It’s the same with trot-canter-trot transitions. I ride those transitions frequently, always with the expectation of an 8. Why

You clearly take your horses’ emotions into consideration in the training. Sometimes the horse “blocks” because of emotional tension. Even if your horse’s anxiety seems unreasonable, you need to pause until the horse doesn’t feel stressed, because if he’s worked up, the information simply doesn’t go through any more. Look at your horse’s interior—his personality—and ask yourself why he does what he does. Sometimes he’s just learning and isn’t sure. There are some things I would work through and other things I would leave alone and think, “Tomorrow’s another day.” But when you feel like an exercise isn’t working, take him out of it and start again, encouraging him to give you the response that you’re looking for. When he makes a mistake, it’s not the end of the world. On the other hand, when the horse does well, praise him. Can you say a word about the role of the whip? The whip is a supportive aid for enhancing the rhythm. It should never replace the rider’s leg, and once the horse is trained, you don’t need it any more. However, educating the horse with the whip helps him learn to become more active in the rhythm without getting faster. Little taps are also an encouraging aid that says, “You should give me a little more effort.” Then focus on what you want. In the canter work, especially, the whip should help him gather himself from behind so he feels in front of you without speeding up. Eventually,

you want that result to come from your seat and leg, but the whip helps to educate him about that. Do you have any final words of advice? Figure out which exercises help your horse. Give him aids that he recognizes and he’s comfortable with. That’s giving him his job description. You want the whole horse to come together and more through on your aids. That gives you a feeling that you have control in selfcarriage, and you’ll notice that your horse lets you sit a little better. All those little pieces that we read about in the books are signs that the horse is more through and more ridable. Don’t underestimate all those little things. Then judge your horse by how he lets you sit. That tells you a story about him.

Meet the Expert


eth Baumert is a USDFcertified instructor through Fourth Level, a USDF L program graduate with distinction, and the author of When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics. She currently serves as president of The Dressage Foundation. For many years she owned and operated Cloverlea Dressage in Columbia, Connecticut, and served as the technical editor of Dressage Today magazine. She divides her time between Connecticut and Florida.



The Judge’s Box Freestyle Continuing-Ed Program Offers Live and Virtual Options Introduction to the USDF Continuing Education in Freestyle Judging Program and its remote offshoot


udging dressage freestyles is complex. Technical execution must be assessed, even though the judge does not know the order of gaits and movements in advance. And the judge must simultaneously evaluate the freestyle’s degree of difficulty, choreography, music, and interpretation.

score-sheet-specific as well as to have a rubric to determine a score. After nine months of development by the three committees, the USDF Continuing Education in Freestyle Judging (CE FJ) program debuted in 2013. This one-day, comprehensive seminar is sponsored by a USDF group-member organization (GMO) or other approved organization. It is designed for a wide range of judges, from L graduates through US Equestrian “S” judges. To date it has been taught through many GMOs, at USEF/USDF Judges’ Clinics, and as part of two International Dressage Officials Club seminars. Read on for an overview of the CE FJ program.

Can Art Be Judged?

When freestyle first gained popularity, there were limited opportunities for judges to receive proper instruction on how to evaluate the artistic elements. Even some of the the most seasoned officials felt ill-prepared to handle the artisticimpression part of the score sheet. There was a big gap in freestyle education at all ranks, and the USDF Judges, L Education Program, and Freestyle Committees jointly wanted that gap filled. Learning general concepts and theory alone was not enough. The program needed to be

When you watch a dressage freestyle, you may think, “That was a great routine,” but could you explain why? As a judge, it’s not enough to say that the music was fun or that the choreography was interesting. Can the differences from one freestyle to the next be assessed objectively? This is an important question, given that artistic marks carry large coefficients on the freestyle score sheet. Whether the judge is evaluating the technical or the artistic aspects of a freestyle test, there is no place for “I didn’t like it.” The USDF L Education Program teaches the formula Basics + Criteria +/- Modifiers = Score as a method of assessing the movements

22 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

in a dressage test. Freestyle judging follows the same formula. Criteria for the artistic-impression score are very specific, and they too are gauged in a particular way so as to make the judging of artistic impression as objective as possible. On the USDF freestyle score sheets, several of the artistic-impression categories are followed by secondary elements. For instance, Music includes • Suitability (the music enhances the horse) (see Figure 1) • Cohesiveness (all the music selections belong together) • Seamlessness (the music editing is smooth). The CE FJ program is more than lecture sessions. Audio and video examples are played to reinforce the concepts, and participants are asked to do their own analysis. In the case of Music, they listen to a sample and decide whether it is cohesive and seamless, as well as the type of horse for which that music might be suitable. Then program participants are taught how to arrive at a score for that artistic element. Using the Music example, the judging formula Basics +/- Modifiers = Score would be expressed as Suitability +/- Cohesiveness and Seamlessness = Score. The same process—defining terms, giving examples, analyzing the category, and formulating a score—is used for each artistic category during the three-hour morning slide show. Then in the afternoon session, CE FJ program participants and auditors view freestyles at sev-


By Terry Ciotti Gallo Graphics by USDF

eral levels and get the opportunity to practice what they have learned.

Standardizing the Process Although the CE FJ program was developed for dressage judges, any freestyle enthusiast can benefit from attending. One aspect that stands out is terminology. The verbiage of dressage freestyles and freestyle score sheets is very exact yet is often used imprecisely. For judges, trainers, and competitors to understand one another more accurately, they need to speak the same language. The CE FJ program trains judges to use scoresheet terminology in their comments, and it behooves the rider to interpret those comments correctly. There is another, farther-reaching benefit to attending the program. All dressage judges should be trained to employ the same methodology, and that includes freestyle. The CE FJ program encompasses everything from rules and briefing the scribe to analysis and refined methodologies. The same curriculum is used nationwide to aid in promoting judging consistency. FEI 5* dressage judge Gary Rockwell says that, of all the freestyle seminars that he has attended both nationally and internationally, the USDF CE FJ program is the finest. We encourage all who have not taken this course to do so and to discover the wealth of information available. For hosting and application information, send e-mail to

Figure 1. Freestyle music suitability explained

and approved for three hours of L graduate continuing-education credit, this four-part presentation of 45 minutes per session continues to this day. Any USDF group-member organization (GMO) or combination of GMOs may sponsor the program, and any USDF group member may attend. Filled with great information for any freestyle enthusiast, this program makes an excellent GMO activity. GMOs have the option to schedule the program in a way that works best for their group. Some may cover all four parts in one day while others choose a weekend or even a weekly time frame. Here’s a look at the remote program.

Part 1: How Freestyles Are Scored Whether you’re a judge, a trainer, or a competitor, it is important to know the rules of USDF-level freestyle competition and to understand how freestyles are evaluated. What better place to start than with the score sheet itself? Yes, it is vital to know which movements must be performed at each level, but it is also essential to know the entry rules, time limits, the difference between deductions and errors, what happens if a movement is “above the level,” how omissions are handled, and what to do if the music fails. Each of these

Remote, Abridged Freestyle Course Created The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of both dressage shows and educational opportunities, including CE FJ programs. To help fill the void, the USDF developed a remote freestyle course adapted from the full CE FJ program. Geared toward USDF L graduates

Figure 2. Slide from the USDF Continuing Education in Freestyle Judging program explaining what “above the level” means in dressage freestyle



The Judge’s Box

Figure 3. The components of the artistic-impression score

may seem like a stand-alone item, but were you aware that there is an interrelationship between these and the artistic marks—especially the mark for choreography? Part 1 of the program examines the score sheet and the associated rules, wraps up with briefing the scribe, and then introduces the methodology for judging and scoring the artistic impression (Figure 2).

Parts 2 and 3: “The Judge Didn’t Like My Music” Parts 2 and 3 of the program define each artistic term used on the score sheet, accompanied by audio and video examples. Program participants are taught a specific process for determining a numeric score following the artistic formula (Figure 3). This kind of analysis is valuable for officials, trainers, and riders alike.

Part 4: Critical Thinking Sometimes things do not go according to plan. Incidents occur that challenge interpretation of the rules, or unpredictable events arise. Part 4 of the program presents actual scenarios that judges have faced, whether they be speakers falling into the arena, unrecognizable movements, or riders stopping midway through their freestyle in confusion. During these discussion

24 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

topics, what would you suggest as a course of action? Any GMO wishing to host this remote course must be able to support Zoom or a similar online conferencing platform, as well as to provide a moderator. The GMO may hire any USEF-licensed “S” dressage judge to present the program, as long as the official has a freestyle designation. At the completion of the course, L graduates wishing to earn continuing-education credit must pass an online quiz, so GMOs must submit the list of participants to the USDF office, after which the link for the quiz will be sent. For hosting and application information, send e-mail to

Terry Ciotti Gallo’s freestyles have been represented at seven Olympic Games and hold two FEI World Cup Dressage Final titles. She has served on the USDF Judges and Freestyle Committees, chairing the Freestyle Committee for six years. She is the primary architect of the USDF Continuing Education in Freestyle Judging program. In 2021, she was recognized with the USDF Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions.

Rider When There’s Too Much Thunder Down Under It’s a problem riders don’t like to talk about, but chafing and rubbing can make saddle time unbearable. Here’s why it happens and what you can do about it. By Jennifer Mellace

SEAT OF THE PROBLEM: You can’t ride well if saddle time causes pain

We’re here to let you know you’re not alone, and to save you from Dr. Google. Let’s get started.

Anatomy Lesson There are different reasons that you might find yourself walking gingerly after riding, but for women and girls, it starts with the female anatomy and your position in the saddle. Some female riders will confess

that their private parts are sore after they ride, and that the first time they urinate after riding is painful, says Beth Glosten, MD, a retired obstetric anesthetist and a USDF bronze, silver, and gold medalist who now owns the rider-biomechanicsfocused RiderPilates LLC in Seattle, Washington. The culprit, says Glosten, is “the sensitive tissues around the urethra, just beneath the arch of the symphysis pubis,” a cartilaginous joint at the top of the pubic arch. The muscles and connective tissue that make up the pelvic floor, which contacts the saddle, are shaped like a diamond— defined by the pubic arch in front, the tailbone in back, and the two seat bones on either side. “The precise location of a given rider’s weight on the pelvic floor varies from rider to rider, but problems happen if there is too much weight toward the front of the pelvic floor.” One potential cause: a saddle that doesn’t suit the rider. “Saddle fit is very important when considering why excessive pressure is being placed on this area,” says Glosten. “If a saddle tree is too large for the horse, the seat of the saddle will tip down in front. This will tip the top of the rider’s pelvis forward, pressing the front of the pelvis, pelvic floor, and the pubic arch against the twist of the saddle.” A good saddle fitter may be able to distinguish between a saddle-fit issue and a problem with the rider’s inherent balance and position. “Just as it’s very important that a saddle fits your horse, it’s also very important that it fits you,” says Theresa Keyes, a saddle fitter for more than 25 years who co-owns

26 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

Maryland Certified Saddle Fitters, Mechanicsville, Maryland, with her daughter, Cate Fiolka. “A saddle fitter who watches you ride can often see if you are banging the pommel [because of saddle fit] or if you just need more practice until you develop a better seat. Being able to try several models for a week or two is the best way to determine if you’re going to stay comfortable.”

Effects of Rider Position According to Glosten, painful rubbing in the area of the urethra can result from incorrect postural and balance habits. “If a rider tends to have an extended or arched posture, the pubic bone and front of the pelvic floor will receive too much weight,” she explains (see Figure 1). “Adjusting this postural challenge can be hard and will involve rotating the pelvis more under the rider, relieving pressure from the pubic-bone region and moving the rider’s weight a bit toward the tailbone region of the pelvic floor” (Figure 2). Equestrians commonly seek balance support from their leg muscles, especially in the sitting trot. “While some leg muscle tone is normal, too much gripping causes many problems, one of which is rubbing and chafing of the urethral area,” says Glosten. “This is particularly true if the rider grips by pulling her knees inward and upward, against the knee rolls of the saddle.” Glosten goes on to explain that the adductor muscles of the hip joint (the muscles of the inner thighs) pull the knees together to grip inward. The hip-flexor muscles, which pull the thighs up and forward, get



f you’ve been riding for some time, then you may have encountered some rather painful issues in some rather sensitive areas. Chafing, rubbing, soreness—it’s all a bit uncomfortable (pun intended) to talk about, but it’s actually a problem that many riders face at one time or another. (Poke around the Internet and you’ll find discussions about how to protect one’s nether regions from discomfort while riding.)


Figure 1. Arched or extended posture. The rider’s seat bones point backward, and too much of the weight is toward the front of the pelvic floor. This position may put excessive pressure on the pubic arch and the urethral area.

Figure 2. Balanced posture. The rider’s seat bones point downward, and the weight is distributed evenly over the pelvic floor.

support from the saddle’s thigh blocks by pushing the knees up into them. Strong hip flexors also have the action of arching the lower back. So if the hip flexors are tight (as they are in many people, often the result of many hours spent sitting), they contribute to tipping the top of the pelvis forward and lifting the thighs up, thereby squeezing the sensitive area at the front of the pelvic floor against the twist of the saddle. “Assuming the saddle fits the horse, finding a grounded, neutral, supported position of the pelvis and spine in the saddle is key to alleviating uncomfortable rubbing,” Glosten says. “Elastic core strength along with body awareness will help establish a balanced position. Keeping track of excessive leg-muscle tension while you ride—noticing it, letting it go, and again, finding an anchored position of your torso—will help modify the habit of a gripping leg.”

encourage everyone to watch out for heavy seams that can cause serious rubbing. Also, don’t wear your breeches too loose. Tacky saddles and tacky breeches stick together, but if you can move around, you can get serious rubs.” Fashion designer Laura Romfh, of Reno, Nevada, owner of the wellknown eponymous line of equestrian apparel, points to two common reasons that breeches cause chafing: they’re loose and baggy, or they’re too tight and ungiving. “Riders need to take into consideration four specific areas for the best breech fit: waist, hip and thigh, knee, and calf,” says Romfh. “Each woman is built a little differently. Some have an ‘apple’ body shape, others are straighter through their torso, and some are pear- or hourglass-shaped. There are many shape-specific breeches in the market. The trick is finding ones that fit your needs specifically.”

Seams Wrong: Breeches Problems

Under It All: When You Need More Help

“An issue that’s often overlooked is your breeches,” says Keyes. “I

What to do when you have a saddle and breeches that fit, your equitation

checks out, and you’re still plagued by rubbing and chafing? Start by evaluating your choice of riding underwear. Thick or stiff panty-line edges can be brutal against tender skin. Thinner or seamless designs may help. Some riders opt for boy-short styles to eliminate panty-line chafing. Materials matter, too, with some people swearing by cotton while others find that quick-drying synthetic fabrics work better, particularly in hot weather. In the past, dressage riders who found relief from extra crotch padding were forced to wear padded underwear made for cyclists. Today there are padded undies designed specifically for equestrians, in styles ranging from briefs to boy shorts (men’s versions exist, too). “Seat savers”—sheepskin or cushioned covers that fit over the seat of the saddle—work for some riders (and are warm in cold weather), but be aware that this is a schooling-only solution: Seat covers are prohibited in USEF-licensed/USDF-recognized dressage competition. Anti-chafe balms and other lubricants help some riders who suffer from rubbing caused by friction. Body Glide is one well-known brand, used by runners and others to help prevent chafing; numerous other brands, formulas, and consistencies—from swipe-on solids to creams, ointments, and gels—exist, including good old-fashioned petroleum jelly (Vaseline). But nothing worked for Canadian horsewoman Jane Hyndman, and so she invented her own anti-chafing solution: a panty-liner-style gel pad. “I have been riding for over 50 years, and chafing has always been a problem for me,” Hyndman says. “I tried everything I could think of and every product I could find—underwear of different natural fabrics, padded underwear, and many different lubricants. Some things worked a bit; others worked some days but not all the time; and some products



Rider Your Sport...Your Community...Your

did not help at all. I became tired of having to miss riding days because I was so sore and decided I would try to find a solution for myself.” She started by reshaping gel shoe inserts and securing them to the crotch of her underwear. The gel pads gave her instant relief and also allowed her to sit more deeply in the saddle, so her riding improved as a side benefit. Encouraged to market her invention, Hyndman created JellyPantz: underwear with a hookand-loop strip in the crotch, which attaches to a thermoplastic elastomer gel pad made by an American company that manufactures medical-grade gel products for the health-care industry.

Don’t Suffer in Silence

Circle of Friends

If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort “down there” when you ride, you’re not alone. The idea of talking openly about rubbing and chafing may be embarrassing, but Keyes says that the rewards are worth it. “I’ve had so many people pull me aside to ask questions about this problem,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to discuss it with your trainer or saddle fitter. You can’t be effective and learn if you’re suffering.”

CIRCLE CIRCLE OF OF FRIENDS FRIENDS The USDF Circle of Friends is essential to the mission of USDF. Your tax deductible gift will have a significant impact in helping USDF provide quality dressage education and programs. Visit USDF’s secure online giving site at

Questions? Please email us at or call 859-971-2277.

28 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

Jennifer Mellace is a published author who writes about topics ranging from health and wellness to lifestyle and business. She lives in Frederick, Maryland, with her husband, two children, and three dogs. Visit her website at

USDF DRESSAGE SEAT MEDAL SEMI-FINALS POSITION YOURSELF FOR SUCCESS For information on qualifying and locations, visit For rider divisions 13 and under, and 14 to 18.

Photo by Emma Miller


Offering over $25,000 in prize money, the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Dressage Championships provide a showcase for achievement and feature qualified riders competing in open, adult amateur, and junior/young rider divisions for regional honors. These championships also serve as the qualifiers for the 2022 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®.

© LisaMichelleDeanPhotography

Great American Insurance Group/USDF

Regional Dressage Championships ©Kathleen Bryan/

© JohnBorysPhotography

© TerriMillerPhotography


Region 4

Region 7

October 6-9, 2022 Lexington, VA

September 8-11, 2022 Lake St. Louis, MO

September 22-25, 2022 Burbank, CA

Region 2

Region 5

Region 8

September 14-18, 2022 Grass Lake, MI

September 22-25, 2022 Santa Fe, NM

September 22-25, 2022 Saugerties, NY

Region 3

Region 6

Region 9

October 7-9, 2022 Conyers, GA

September 15-18, 2022 Auburn, WA

October 6-9, 2022 Katy, TX

Regional Championships are qualifying competitions for the US Dressage Finals See the calendar at for the most current dates, locations, and competition contact information.

Title Sponsor of the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championships Great American is one of the world’s leading providers of equine mortality insurance and related coverages in addition to offering a full line of property and casualty products for the equestrian community through its equine farm center. To learn more about Great American Insurance, visit Presenting Sponsor of the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championships The patented SmartPak supplement feeding system gives horse owners peace of mind with its premeasured dosages for each horse. To learn more about SmartPak or to shop their products, visit Supporting Sponsor of the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Regional Championships Since 1996 the team at Platinum Performance has been focused on researching the role of nutrition in equine health and developing formulas to help improve the health and performance of the horse. To learn more about Platinum Performance visit

GMO Promoting Diversity in Dressage USDF task force’s mission: increase diversity, equity, and inclusion

USEF website (, range from marketing efforts and DEI training for USEF employees to the creation of a grants program for community riding centers, especially those that serve underrepresented and underserved communities.

USDF Develops a DEI Task Force During her term, USDF immediate past president Lisa Gorretta established a USDF DEI Task Force, to build on the USEF’s efforts and to hone a USDF-focused approach to DEI. “As a USEF affiliate, we wanted to follow their lead and leverage their

ALL WELCOME: New USDF task force aims to welcome all kinds of riders to the dressage community

systemic racism and have strived to learn more about how to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their communities, workplaces, schools, and other milieus. US Equestrian (USEF), our country’s national equestrian federation, began by examining 20 years of member-demographic data. Its statistics indicated that the percentage of members who self-identified as white—95% in 2000—was still the overwhelming majority in 2019, at 91%. Clearly, changes needed to be made. In June 2020, USEF announced its intention to create a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Action Plan. Strategies developed as part of the plan, which is available on the

resources,” says USDF marketing and communications director Ross Creech, “so that, once USEF’s DEI efforts began and their working group was established, we were able to better identify USDF’s role and specific goals.” Creech, who is the USDF staff liaison to the task force, says that the group’s objective is to “evaluate USDF’S current state regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion, and make suggestions that could be implemented to improve its position.” The economics of scale give more weight to the USEF’s endeavor—“USEF is in a better position than USDF, as an affiliate, to truly impact diversity in equestrian sport,” says Creech. But “to try to measure the perception of our

32 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

members regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion within USDF and the dressage community,” the USDF plans to conduct a membership survey “and to follow that up with another survey after the implementation” of its first round of initiatives, he says. Chairing the USDF DEI Task Force is Colorado-based USEF “R” dressage judge, “R” dressage sporthorse breeding judge, and “r” Westerndressage judge Gwen Ka’awaloa. The other current members are USDF Region 7 director Carol Tice, elite dressage competitor and 2015 Special Olympics World Games dressage judge Lehua Custer, and adult-amateur rider and high-performance horse owner Wendy Sasser, all of California; New Jersey-based para-dressage athlete Alanna Flax-Clark; USEF dressage technical delegates Andrea Davenport-Himel of Mississippi and Michelle King of Virginia; Floridabased dressage trainer Lisa El-Ramey; longtime Northern Ohio Dressage Association member Gwen Samuels of Ohio; and USDF bronze medalist and USDF L program participant Patrick Wolfe of Indiana, who also serves on the USEF Member Services Council. When Gorretta approached Ka’awaloa in January 2021, “I kind of picked her brain about why she chose me,” Ka’awaloa says. “There are a lot of facets. When you talk DEI, you’re talking people who are worried about racial appearances. The big thing that I told her from day one was that we were not going to make this just about race. I’m a mixed race. I was raised in the Hawaiian islands, where being of mixed race is normal. Nobody cares. Actually, being white is less normal there. That being said, we’re very, very aware of racial problems. But I told Lisa that I would not play the game if I had to make it all about race.



n ongoing challenge for many of USDF’s group-member organizations (GMOs) is to expand outreach in order to grow membership. In recent years, this issue has taken on additional significance in the wider equestrian world. It’s not only about dressage clubs reaching out to equestrians in other disciplines; it’s also about finding ways to attract people who historically have been underrepresented in our sports. In the wake of protests sparked by the May 2020 murder by police of a Black man, George Floyd, both organizations and individual citizens have grappled with the concept of

By Penny Hawes

“Fortunately,” Ka’awaloa continues, “I have a team that agrees, and that makes it easier. Making it about race, it’s got to exclude somebody. So the whole team was all for the idea that we weren’t going to make it directly about that. We were going to circumvent the word race by concentrating on inclusivity. So being inclusive is what we’ve wanted to do, and the equity part came with some of the programs we created that we presented to the [USDF] Executive Board.”

Areas of Focus Expanding the availability of paraequestrian dressage classes at dressage shows is one of the DEI Task Force’s initial goals. “You hear a ton about para if you ride FEI but no talk about para at schooling shows or at the lower-level shows,” Ka’awaloa says, referring to the international-level para-dressage competition featured at FEI World Championships and Paralympic Games. Ka’awaloa’s own GMO, the Rocky Mountain Dressage Society, offers para-dressage classes at its USEFlicensed/USDF-recognized dressage competition, but some show managers “are asking, ‘How are we going to do that?’” she says. “This has been a focus of DEI from day one.” To help those show managers, the task force is compiling a “suggestion list on what you need to have for a para class, and what para riders would appreciate being offered,” Ka’awaloa says. The list will be included in a DEI packet that will be distributed to GMOs and published on the USDF website. Carol Tice, a former California Dressage Society (CDS) president, “has been bringing a lot of ideas from CDS, including managing para classes,” Ka’awaloa says. According to Tice, “Our next CDS-only show is offering every para class there is.” Some show managers have “been afraid to offer para-dressage classes because of fear, mainly about the facilities,” Tice says. “They didn’t think that they were going to be compli-

ant—that they would be turned in.” But USEF “S” dressage judge and FEI 3* para-equestrian dressage judge David Schmutz of California has been encouraging show managers to “Just offer the classes; you’ll be fine,” she says. The USDF does not involve itself on a national level with Western dressage, but some GMOs—and, by extension, the USDF DEI Task Force—have found that offering Western-dressage classes at unrecognized (schooling) shows is an effective means of outreach. During the GMO education session, “Diversifying Your GMO to Attract More Members,” held during the virtual 2021 Adequan®/USDF Annual Convention (and powered by the work of the DEI Task Force), Tice and her co-presenter, USDF Group Member Organizations Committee Region 3 representative Loretta Lucas of Florida, affirmed that Western dressage is a popular draw in their areas. In the US, the dressage demographic is overwhelmingly female. But Western dressage has “allowed [CDS] to expand what we can offer to riders—and to men!” Tice says. “We’ve gotten an influx of male riders in the Western dressage.” The Western-dressage USEF affiliate organization, the Western Dressage Association of America (WDAA), offers special classes for riders with disabilities as part of its Exceptional Rider Program. Riders in the WDAA Physically Challenged division compete using standard WDAA tests. Those in the WDAA Therapeutic Rider division—for riders with “a diagnosed physical, social, or emotional disability”—compete using WDAA Therapeutic Rider tests. “Our CDS chapter schooling-show series has always offered Exceptional classes: a walk-only test, a lead-line test, a lunge-line test,” says Tice. “We’re finding that that really has opened up a niche. I think if you’re not looking at classes offered at these lower-rated shows, barn shows, you don’t see what’s really offered and what para is getting offered around.”

(For other tips from the “Diversifying Your GMO” convention education session, see “The Best-Laid Plans…”, March/April.)

Addressing Financial Barriers to Participation “People are worried about money,” says Ka’awaloa. “That’s probably the hardest part that [the task force has discussed]: How do we help out with no funds to give people, and then the inclusivity part.” Perhaps taking inspiration from The Rider’s Closet (now part of the Equus Foundation), a charitable organization founded by jumper rider Georgina Bloomberg that provides new and gently used equestrian attire free of charge to riders in need, Tice has proposed a similar “closet” initiative that Ka’awaloa calls “phenomenal.” The objective is “to get people started where they can get some [gently] used clothing and things so that they can go to a show and feel dressed up, but not have to go out and spend $500 to go to their first little show.”

One Step at a Time Ka’awaloa recognizes that the USDF DEI Task Force has a broad and lofty mission, and “that’s why we’re a task force that didn’t go away after a year. We asked for permission to keep going for another year because we want to manage what we started.” For more information about the USDF DEI Task Force, contact your USDF regional director (see page 2 of this issue) or task-force staff liaison Ross Creech at

Penny Hawes is a writer, rider, and coach from Virginia. When she’s not working, you can find her hiking with her daughter, scouting around for antiques with her husband, or hanging out with her assortment of horses, cats, and dogs.



Sport Horse Is Your Horse Fit to Compete? Ensure that your horse is physically prepped to handle the demands of dressage. First of two parts.

he concept of “fit to compete” embraces many aspects of equine management, from nutrition to farriery to training. As a dressage rider, you know that to be successful your horse needs to be competent in the movements of the level—but how much thought do you give to other aspects of managing his fitness? Fitness has many benefits. A fit horse: • Performs the movements with better quality and enthusiasm (impulsion) • Is at lower risk of fatigue and injury • Has an expectation of greater longevity as an athlete.

and correct neck posture. Part 2 will address strengthening the “dressage muscles” for the higher levels of competition, with the goals of making the movements easier and addressing specific performance problems.

Fitness Requirements for Dressage Horses Every equestrian sport requires the horse to perform a set of skills that have specific requirements for cardiovascular fitness, strength, agility, and balance. If you were training an event horse, for example, the focus would be on cardiovascular fitness, with the objective of being able to gallop at high speed continuously

FITNESS TRAINING: Dressage trainer Nancy Later rides over cavalletti. Trotting over a grid of poles is an excellent way of strengthening the horse’s core muscles.

In this two-part series, I’ll describe exercises to address training issues that are related to insufficient fitness or strength at each competition level. In this issue, I’ll focus on the lower levels (Training through Second): I’ll look at how to develop and maintain the horse’s core strength, cardiovascular fitness,

for several minutes. Galloping for long periods is not in the dressage repertoire, but dressage horses do need sufficient cardiovascular fitness to perform at their level of training without becoming fatigued. However, getting a horse overly fit for lower-level dressage may not be desirable, either, because fit horses

34 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

can get a bit too frisky for our purposes!

Conditioning for Training and First Levels Training and First Level dressage focuses on developing correct basics that will serve as the foundation of future work. The horse’s hind limbs develop more thrust—a prerequisite to achieving better balance and thoroughness—and the horse learns to seek a consistent contact with the bit in a long and rounded neck posture. The types of conditioning that are beneficial at this stage of training are: • Core training, to activate and strengthen the muscles that move and stabilize the neck and back • Cardiovascular conditioning for horses that are easily fatigued or that have trouble tolerating heat in spite of sweating normally (Note: this does not include horses with anhidrosis, meaning that they are unable to sweat) • Neck-posture control, to teach the horse to support his own neck from above in the so-called falling-down neck posture. Let’s look at each of these three types of conditioning in more detail. Core training. The value of core training lies in improving the horse’s ability to round and stabilize its back, which is highly relevant throughout the life of a dressage horse. Core training from the ground should ideally be started in the young horse before ridden exercise begins. When the horse is in ridden work, the best time to do core training is immediately before tacking up, to “wake up” the core muscles in preparation for exercise.



By Hilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, FRCVS


ENTICEMENT: Baited stretches are a fun and easy method of core strengthening

ENGAGE THE SLING: Pressure under the girth line stimulates the horse to contract his sling muscles to lift his withers

Many core-training exercises are performed from the ground because the horse’s spine is a lot more mobile when he is standing as opposed to during locomotion, when the goal is to stabilize the spine. Therefore, we can move the joints and work the muscles through a larger range of motion in the standing horse than is possible when the horse is in motion. Baited stretches (“carrot stretches”) are simple exercises that anyone can do, and their beneficial effects have been proven in several research studies. Baited stretches activate and strengthen the large muscles that control movements of the horse’s neck and back; they also target the small muscles that stabilize the spine. When the spine is stabilized, it is more effective in transmitting propulsion from the hind limbs forward. From a soundness perspective, a stable spine reduces a horse’s risk of developing facet arthritis by preventing micromotion of the joint surfaces during movement. As the name suggests, baited stretches involve using a bait, such as a small piece of carrot, which the horse follows with his muzzle to various positions that involve rounding and bending the neck. As the

neck moves through its full range of motion, the horse activates his core muscles not only to round and bend his spine, but also to control his balance—a skill that becomes important at the higher levels of dressage. Each exercise can be done three to five times daily. Doing baited stretches every day is one of the best investments of time that you can make in your horse’s future. After a horse has been performing the baited stretches regularly for two or three months, you can introduce the stimulated core-strengthening exercises, in which pressure applied to certain areas of the horse’s body stimulates a muscular contraction that rounds or bends the back and strengthens the muscles responsible for these movements. Scratching under the girth line with your fingers or a stiff brush stimulates the horse to lift the base of his neck and his withers. Steady pressure applied about six inches around from the girth line by reaching underneath the horse stimulates both rounding and bending away from the pressure. Applying pressure in a sliding motion down the intermuscular groove on each side of the haunches stimulates the horse

to tuck his pelvis and flex his lumbar spine. Instead of standing directly behind your horse, stand beside him and stimulate the groove on one side at a time. Do three to five repetitions of each exercise on both sides daily. For more details on baited stretches and stimulated corestrengthening exercises, see the twopart series, “Sport Horse: Strengthen the Sling,” January/February 2021 and September/October 2021. And to learn more about conditioning the dressage horse, see “Some Thoughts on Conditioning Dressage Horses,” December 2018/January 2019. Gymnastic exercises that strengthen the core muscles can be performed in hand, under saddle, or both. Exercises that have been associated with improvements in core strength include walking with bend in very small circles, such as around a pylon; turns on the forehand; circles and spirals at all gaits; walking and trotting over a grid of poles, either on the ground or raised; and walking multiple times over a single high pole, set just below the horse’s knee height. Cardiovascular conditioning. From a fitness standpoint, the physiological requirements at Train-



CRESTY BY NATURE: An Iberian horse with cresty-neck syndrome, a genetic condition that causes the early development of a very large and heavy crest. Heavy-necked horses may need to be ridden with shorter-than-ideal necks until their topline muscles become strong enough to support their necks in a more correct position.

ing and First Levels are moderate. Horses should be able to work for 40 to 60 minutes per day, five or six days per week and, if possible, be ridden outside of the arena two or three days per week. They should be able to trot and canter continuously without a walk break for five to 10 minutes and recover rapidly. Cardiovascular fitness enables the horse to perform a specific amount of work with a lower heart rate, to recover more rapidly after exercise, and to dissipate heat from its muscles more effectively in hot weather. The cardiovascular requirements for dressage are not great compared with many other sports, and most horses develop sufficient fitness by “doing dressage.” However, there are a few horses that would benefit from achieving a higher level of fitness, and the best time to do this is in the early stages of the horse’s career. Horses of the hot-blooded breeds—such as Thoroughbreds, Arabians, Iberians, and, to a lesser extent, warmbloods—become fit relatively easily. If you have an offthe-track Thoroughbred, he will already have developed a high level

of cardiovascular fitness that returns rapidly when he enters a regular work program. Even after a layoff, these horses regain fitness quickly. Cold-blooded breeds or horses with a lazy disposition are the ones most likely to benefit from cardiovascular conditioning. The key to improving fitness lies in increasing the horse’s heart rate on a regular basis. Interval training is the most effective means of doing this. The principle is to alternate between working hard enough to raise the heart rate and easing off enough to allow partial recovery at a walk or slow trot, then raising the heart rate again. Interval training should be done two to three days per week in addition to the regular training. As with any new fitness program, start small and build up gradually over time. In the beginning, you might trot briskly for five minutes, walk for five minutes, and trot for five minutes. After practicing this regimen two to three days a week for two weeks, increase the intensity, duration, or number of the work periods. Here are examples of how to accomplish this: • Intensity: Increase trotting speed. Alternate between trotting and cantering. Increase the time spent cantering. Increase the frequency of transitions between trot and canter. Work with more impulsion. Ride on an uphill gradient. • Duration: Lengthen the work periods by adding 30 seconds to the trot work every two weeks. • Number of work periods: Add an extra work period but cut back a little on the work durations. Example: Go from two repetitions of five minutes trotting to three repetitions of four minutes trotting. After two weeks, increase the duration incrementally. Cardiovascular workouts are best done outside the arena in an area with safe, consistent footing. It’s a good idea to shorten your stirrups a couple of holes and get off your

36 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

horse’s back so he can use his back muscles more freely. An incline is a great addition because the effect of gravity puts more load on the hind limbs, which helps to develop the propulsive muscles, while the forelimbs are relatively unloaded, with less risk of concussive injuries. Note that a horse’s respiratory rate is not an indication of fitness. If your horse still has a high respiratory rate after you’ve cooled down with a period of walking, it’s a sign that he’s still hot and will benefit from additional cooling, such as cold-hosing. Neck posture. One of the training challenges at the lower levels of dressage is to teach the horse to reach to the bit and to take a correct contact, supporting its neck from above with the elastic nuchal ligament and the muscles on top of the neck while the “under neck” muscles remain relaxed. The head and neck account for about 10% of the horse’s weight, which equates to 100-150 pounds in the average dressage horse. When a forelimb is grounded, the head and neck fall, thereby stretching the nuchal ligament and the muscles around it. The ligaments and muscles contain elastic tissue that stretches as the neck falls and then recoils to raise the head and neck. The goal is for the head and neck to be supported by this natural elasticity, reinforced as needed by the topline muscles of the neck. It requires considerable muscular strength to support the neck in this manner, especially if the neck is stretched forward. When a horse begins dressage training, its upper neck muscles may not be strong enough to hold the neck in an elongated position for long periods of time. It may take several weeks or even months of training for a young horse to gain sufficient strength to support its neck comfortably and easily in an elongated position. Iberian horses with a genetic condition known as cresty-neck syn-


Sport Horse


drome develop exceptionally large and heavy crests early in life (see “All About the Neck,” October 2017). These and other heavy-necked horses may need to be ridden initially with a shorter neck, gradually lengthening it as the topline muscles become strong enough to support their heavy necks in a more correct position. Simple management changes, such as feeding from the ground or using a ground-based slow feeder rather than a hay net, can help to develop the neck musculature correctly. Ground-feeding requires the horse to lower and raise its neck multiple times while eating. Baited stretches in which the horse reaches forward and downward are useful, too, especially if the stretched-neck position is maintained for several seconds or the treat is moved from side to side with the neck lengthened. An exercise under saddle to strengthen the neck muscles is to trot on a 20-meter circle with changes of direction and neck position. Circle left in a working neck position, followed by a circle left in a stretchy neck position; then change directions and circle right in a stretchy neck position, followed by a circle right in a working neck position. Repeat several times, paying particular attention to the smoothness of the transitions between the working and lowered neck postures. These postural transitions teach the horse to use its neck muscles correctly to support and move the neck, and they strengthen the muscles involved. The changes of direction add the challenge of shortening and lengthening the neck muscles on the inside and outside of the turn. Trotting over poles can also be useful if the horse is willing to round and lower his neck as he navigates the poles. Development of correct neck posture and mechanics is crucially important in the dressage horse and should not be rushed in early train-

ing. Be aware that, for some young horses, neck support can be difficult.

Second Level Second Level requires the horse to demonstrate correct basics, to be reliably on the bit, and to begin moving in an “uphill” balance. At this level of training, the horse attains an uphill balance primarily by raising its forehand using its thoracic-sling and forelimb-extensor muscles. Failure to achieve this will be reflected in judges’ comments indicating that the horse is on the forehand. Developing balance and agility. Second Level introduces shoulder-in, travers (haunches-in), and turn on the haunches. For a horse to perform these movements correctly, it needs to have good control of its balance— the ability to control its body position over the grounded limbs. It also needs to be able to use both forelimbs equally to raise the shoulders. The primary function of the muscles that connect the limbs to the body is to transfer forces from the limbs to the body during locomotion. The same muscles are also responsible for controlling the body’s position over the grounded limbs, which becomes increasingly important as the horse moves up the levels. Unmounted exercises: As I discussed in last year’s two-part series, “Sport Horse: The Thoracic Sling” (January/February and September/ October), we can use balancing exercises to teach the horse to activate and strengthen the sling muscles by requiring him to move and control the position of his body relative to his grounded limbs. Several unmounted exercises are useful in this regard, especially the core-training exercises to raise the withers that I described on page 35. When a horse reaches Second Level, you can increase the number of repetitions. Exercises under saddle: Teach your horse to take short, wellcontrolled walk steps in forward, backward, and sideways directions. Stepping sideways along the length

SQUARE FOR BALANCE: Asking the horse to step forward, backward, and sideways in both directions in a square pattern helps to develop coordination, balance, and thoracicsling muscle strength

of a pole is a good way to develop the coordination pattern for the full pass. Now try these exercises: • 10-meter square: Walk forward for 10 meters; step sideways to the left for 10 meters; rein back for 10 meters; and complete the square by stepping sideways to the right for 10 meters (see diagram above). The steps should be slow and well controlled. Keep your horse’s body fairly straight and centered over his



Sport Horse limbs throughout the exercise. Repeat the exercise in the opposite direction. • Position changes on a circle: Walk on a 15-meter circle. Every half circle, change your horse’s bend and positioning, varying among shoulder-in, shoulderout, haunches-in, and haunchesout. Then make the exercise more challenging by changing the positioning every quarter circle. Ride the exercise equally on both reins, or make a figureeight pattern. Include transitions between walk and halt while maintaining the bend. When you and your horse are comfortable performing the exercise at a walk, try it in a slow trot. Your horse should be able to stop at any time without falling to one side to keep his balance. • Turns on the forehand and on the haunches: Ride turns on the forehand in both directions, sometimes bending away from


DATE le x ington, k y


Annual Convention Nov 30 – Dec 3, 2022

the direction of movement and sometimes deliberately bending into the direction of movement. Similarly, ride turns on the haunches with inside bend and with outside bend. All of these exercises improve the horse’s agility and balance. When you ride them, think about bending correctly, asking your horse to push up equally through both shoulders, maintaining control of every step, and keeping his body vertical and balanced over his legs. By teaching the exercises at the walk, the horse has more time to figure out what is required and to develop the correct coordination patterns. If this type of work is introduced at Second Level, it will be well established by the time the horse reaches the FEI levels, when the ability to control the body’s position over the limbs becomes even more important. The exercises used to develop this skill can be part of the daily warmup. Developing thrust and power. Medium trot and canter, which are introduced at Second Level, require the horse’s hind limbs to generate greater forward and upward thrust while the forelimbs act as struts to elevate the forehand. The horse must push off the ground into a suspension phase (with all four feet airborne) in order for the hind hooves to overtrack the fore hooves. Signs that the horse is not yet strong enough to do this are forging (the fore hoof remains grounded too long, and the toe of the advancing hind hoof clips the underside of the fore hoof ) and stepping wide behind (the fore hoof remains grounded for too long, so the horse places its hind limbs to the outside to avoid stepping on itself ). Exercises to strengthen the propulsive muscles to prevent forging and going wide behind in medium trot include hill work, long periods of trotting actively forward on straight lines, frequent transitions within the trot, and jumping grids.

38 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

Fitness Is the Foundation The lower levels are the time when the horse learns correct dressage basics and develops the physiological fitness to execute the requirements of a five- to six-minute Training, First, or Second Level test. These important fundamentals must be established correctly in order to prepare the horse for the demands of the higher levels to come, which I’ll cover in the next issue in part 2 of this series.

Meet the Expert


r. Hilary Clayton is the professor and Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair emerita. She was the original holder of the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, East Lansing, from 1997 to 2014. A world-renowned expert on equine biomechanics and conditioning, Dr. Clayton is president of Sport Horse Science, LC, which is dedicated to translating research data into practical advice for riders, trainers, and veterinarians through lectures, articles, and private consultations. A USDF gold, silver, and bronze medalist, she is a longtime USDF Connection contributing editor and a past member of US Equestrian’s Dressage Committee. In 2020 she was inducted into the Roemer Foundation/USDF Hall of Fame.

Grant Recipient Leah Majkrzak By Red Pony Photography

Here to Help Have you set your dressage goals, made a plan, but need financial help? Thanks to many generous donors, financial support may be available for your dressage education. Grants are available for: Adult Amateurs Youth Instructors Judges FEI Riders Western Dressage Riders Breeders Show Management Technical Delegates USDF GMOs Nonprofit Groups And More!

Visit for grant information and to make a donation to help the sport you love!

Back in the Saddle How some USDF members have overcome major physical or psychological setbacks to get back to their beloved horses and dressage

SWEET RIDE: Two months after undergoing a double mastectomy, breast-cancer survivor JJ Tate won the 2021 Great American/USDF Region 1 Grand Prix Freestyle championship aboard Derby, an Oldenburg gelding (Donnerwerth – Pastora, Pointmaker) owned by Cackie Vroom

40 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION




hen horses get injured, we dressage riders typically pull out all the stops to make sure our mounts are 100% sound and healthy before they return to work. But riders who get hurt or sick tend to suffer in silence, toughing it out through the pain. It’s almost considered a badge of courage for horse people to just “kick on”—until they can’t any longer. Some physical and psychological problems are severe enough to sideline even the most determined equestrian, who then faces a twofold battle: first to beat the issue, and then to return to riding. In this article, USDF members fueled by a desire to return to riding share stories of the obstacles they surmounted.


Comeback Story: Joint Replacement Equestrians of a certain age may have parted ways with their mounts enough times that they have the aching hips to show for it. So it’s no surprise that hipreplacement surgery is a fairly common procedure for older riders. FEI-level dressage competitor and small-animal veterinarian Kristy Lund, DVM, has had both hips replaced—but in her case, the source of the pain was genetic, not horse-related. Lund, 56, of Wellington, Florida, was born with hip dysplasia and developed bone-marrow edema syndrome, which caused aching in all of her bones. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic thought she had bone cancer; but Lund’s friend Dr. Heather Boo, who is a radiologist and a dressage rider, diagnosed the actual problem. Told that no treatment currently exists for her condition, Lund decided to wait and see if the pain would go away on its own. After two years of constant pain, she consulted an orthopedist, who recommended hip replacements. (In a side note, according to Lund, her orthopedist told her that riding actually relieves stress on the hip joint as long as you sit correctly in the saddle.) Lund had both hips done, one at a time to prevent spending an extensive amount of time in the hospital. “It’s been very successful,” she says of the surgeries. “I walked around crippled for two years. I’ve broken nearly every bone in my body, and this was probably the easiest procedure I’ve had.” Lund had her first hip replaced in 2015. In 2016, riding Blue Marlin Farms’ Spanish Warmblood, Akvavit, she racked up several top finishes, including the Great American/USDF Region 3 Intermediate II Adult

BIONIC WOMAN: Adult-amateur rider Kristy Lund has had both hips replaced. After the first procedure, she won the 2016 US Dressage Finals Grand Prix AA reserve championship aboard Akvavit.

Amateur championship and the Grand Prix Adult Amateur reserve championship at the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®. The following year, she had her other hip replaced. Some people expressed surprise that Lund underwent hip-replacement surgery at a relatively young age, but “I knew injections would just be putting a Band-Aid on it,” she explains. “They’re titanium hips and should last at least 30 years. In hindsight, I would have done it sooner. After surgery, I literally woke up and got out of bed. I was on the phone in a conference call two hours after surgery; that’s how good I felt.” Lund knows, however, that not every patient’s experience is as smooth. “I would stress that it’s worth talking to people and listening to references,” she says, “because I definitely know people that didn’t have it go well—things like one leg shorter than the other, or infection.” For now, when she’s not seeing patients of her own at Lund Animal Hospital, the practice she co-owns with her husband, Scott Lund, in Boca Raton, Florida, Lund is in the saddle as much as ever. She’s hoping to do a CDI with Akvavit, and she’s bringing two other horses up to the Intermediate II level. She also just purchased a four-year-old—but she’s having someone else ride that one for now. “I really don’t want to take a fall and have to go back in for revision,” she says. “I don’t get on the crazies!” [ USDF CONNECTION | May/June 2022


Comeback Story: Traumatic Brain Injury In February 2014, Silva Martin won a gold medal on the US Nations Cup dressage team in Wellington, Florida. The German-born rider had recently become a US citizen and was excited to represent her new country in competition. Just two weeks later, a young horse Martin was schooling stumbled. Martin, who was wearing a helmet, fell and was knocked unconscious. She suffered a mid-brain bleed and was in a coma following the injury. Early in her recovery, she was unable to walk or talk, and the inflammation in her brain damaged the optic nerve to her right eye. It took months of rehab for Martin to regain some normalcy, and her vision is permanently impaired. “The talking came back right away, and I was bilingual right away,” Martin recalls, “but I was in a wheel-

chair for probably four months, and then I walked with someone holding me with a belt.” It was a long road back: Martin did inpatient rehabilitation for about five months at a facility in Delray Beach, Florida, followed by seven months of outpatient rehab in Malvern, Pennsylvania, near Martin’s home base of Cochranville, Pennsylvania, where she teaches and trains alongside her husband, Olympic eventer Boyd Martin, at their Windurra USA facility. “Funny enough, I was riding before I was walking, I guess because I’d ridden all my life,” Martin says. “At first I had side walkers and someone leading the horse. For a while I’d have someone help me get off and lead me to a chair because riding was easier than walking. There was no question in my mind that I would come back to what I’d always done; it was only a matter of how long it would take.” Martin’s determination paid off when she went down center line at

42 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

Comeback Story: PTSD Not every injury is visible from the outside. Psychological trauma can be every bit as crippling as a physical problem. During her US Army career, now-retired Marci Drewry, 66, of Wakefield, Virginia, “was a high-lev-


DETERMINED: FEI-level rider/trainer Silva Martin (pictured schooling the Oldenburg gelding Belrano Gold [Bellissimo M x Serano Gold, owned by Joan Owen] at home in Pennsylvania) has lasting effects from a TBI, but she has adapted and is “back in full work”

Dressage at Devon (Pennsylvania) in September 2014, less than seven months after the accident, riding Rosa Cha W to two third-place finishes in the small tour. She’s resumed her career as a dressage professional, although the accident has left her with lasting effects. She still has double vision in her right eye even after multiple surgeries, and she wears a lens that blocks her vision on that side. Her left eye, which is constantly dilated (she wears sunglasses most of the time), can only look straight ahead, so she has to turn her head to look up, down, and sideways—not ideal for riding and teaching. But “you can get used to just about anything,” Martin says. “At first, the hardest thing was going down the center line: When you have only one eye, your depth perception is really off. What I struggle with, and really hate, is that I have to look down so much [while riding]. I can’t see the horse’s neck or where I’m going if I don’t look down. The only thing I can’t really do comfortably is lunge a horse, and sometimes when I put my head down to put my spurs on, I might fall over!” she adds with a laugh. The Martins’ first child, son Nox, born in September 2015, was delivered via Caesarian section because pushing would have risked putting pressure on Silva’s brain. The couple welcomed little brother Leo in July 2018.


el criminal investigator—a special agent—and I was in charge of some very large projects, to include massgrave projects.” Drewry served during the post9/11 “war on terror” years and says she “was one of the first persons to see photos of the Abu Ghraib atrocities. I drove my Humvee over the berm and into Baghdad, and I was up close and personal with the war. I also spent 24 years in law enforcement in the US Army, in charge of homicide investigations and other felony crimes. I was the first woman to have an office in the demilitarized zone in South Korea, and later at Fort Bragg [North Carolina]. We worked at a very highpressure, high-stress level, in wartime and in peace time, as well.” The experiences and the stress “have a tendency to impact you,” says Drewry, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She tried therapy at a veterans center, but “because of what I did in the military, I didn’t get a lot out of it.” Horse people are fond of saying that horses and riding are good for the soul, but in Drewry’s case, her dressage instructor, Marie Taylor, has played a key role in her recovery. “Marie has been an instructor and a trainer for 60-some years, and before she decided to dedicate her life to dressage, she worked for the US military police as a Department of Defense civilian,” Drewry says. The job taught Taylor about what Drewry calls “the military mindset,” explaining, “When I was looking for an instructor, I needed someone who would ‘get’ that part of me. If you’ve never dealt with the military, we think differently and take a lot of things very literally.” With her Corolla mustang/ Tennessee Walker/Paint cross, The

Ice Man, Drewry began dressage lessons with Taylor at Dabney Mill Equestrian Center in Dinwiddie, Virginia. Both women soon found that their sessions were tapping into issues more profound than circles and half-halts. “When she started working with me,” Drewry says, “it was as a coach and a mentor, and she understood what PTSD was all about. She was able to connect with me by giving me limitation parameters, as far as my thought process. She knew I could grasp a lot of things at the same time, but she backed that off because you tend to get overloaded and go into combat mode.” She adds that Taylor can even read her body language as she rides, and she helps to ease Drewry off the proverbial ledge if she senses Drewry’s anxiety mounting. Her dressage lessons are “unique and very rewarding for me,” Drewry says. Taylor “can bring me back to the ‘Zen moment’ and help me breathe and focus on the now. That’s pretty special and has helped me immensely with riding and in life in general….Marie took me from a ‘stress junkie monkey” to ‘life is good and let’s focus on the here and now’ and enjoy the dressage journey of learning new things and applying knowledge, which has nothing to do with anything I did in the US military at all. I feel like I have a safe zone.” Two years ago, Drewry was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. She continues to ride as she’s able, and when she can’t she goes to the barn and takes unmounted lessons. She also recently underwent a hip replacement and says she plans to do more unmounted dressagetheory work during her rehab. She also enjoys helping riders with their musical freestyles.

THE BEST THERAPY: Marci Drewry and friend. Dressage lessons with a sympathetic instructor help Drewry, an Army veteran, deal with PTSD.

Comeback Story: Cancer Breast cancer has a genetic component, and some people with a family history of breast cancer undergo genetic testing to learn whether they’ve inherited a gene change that increases their own risk. Because her mother was diagnosed with ductal breast cancer 25 years ago, FEI-level trainer and competitor Jessica Jo “JJ” Tate, of Landrum, South Carolina, and Wellington, Florida, got the genetic testing and was negative. Tate, 44, has also been getting regular mammograms since she was in her early 30s. So it came as a shock when in July 2021 a routine mammogram revealed that she had developed invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), the second most common form of breast cancer diagnosed in the US. “You take it for granted that they’re going to call and tell you everything is normal, but I could tell by the tone of [the doctor’s] voice



that it wasn’t,” Tate recalls. “I was teaching a lesson and really went into shock. The first thing I did was make an action plan to bring me out of that place of panic. I couldn’t even believe it because I felt pretty healthy.” Following Tate’s diagnosis, things proceeded quickly. “The Greenville [South Carolina] Prisma Health System was amazing,” she says. “August 18 I had a double mastectomy. [I had] a 3.7-centimeter tumor, so fairly big. That’s pretty typical; [ILC is] slow-growing but tends to get bigger before you find it. I was Grade 1 Stage IIB, and they got really clean margins, and it was slow-growing and nonaggressive.” As an elite dressage competitor, Tate understands the attention to detail required to manage her mounts’ health and care. She decided to apply the same rigor to her own recovery. “I made an action plan: To come back to high performance, what would I have to do? If it were my horse, I would read books, go online, so I became an expert on things I never wanted to know about.” Tate was on a horse at the walk two weeks post-surgery, still with a drain in. “That’s where I find my joy, my purpose. Lying in bed wasn’t great; I needed to get back in the saddle and stretch my hips out. It was emotional and joyful to be with the horses again. For the first time, you really think about death and don’t feel invincible. Health isn’t something to be taken for granted.” By week three, Tate rode at the walk for 20 minutes and then tried a little canter, just to make sure she could. But that was about it: “I really put myself on ‘stall rest,’ even though it’s in my nature to do too much.”

As part of Tate’s action plan, she made some radical changes to her health and wellness regimen, explaining, “I felt that I needed to change the environment for something like this to grow.” She swore off sugar, meat, alcohol, and dairy and “went plant-based and started meditating. I’m on a full, encompassing wellness path, which feels totally amazing.” Tate was able to opt out of chemotherapy and radiation, but “I went really aggressive with the hormones. I get the Lupron shot every three months to medically put me into menopause and suppress hormones because the cancer was hormone-fueled. I also take anastrozole every night in pill form, to help not feed the hormone-fueled cancer type. Every night I bless my pill and meditate into bringing the cancer out of my body.” Two months out from surgery, Tate made a triumphant return to dressage competition. Aboard Cackie Vroom’s Oldenburg gelding, Derby, she won the 2021 Great American/USDF Region 1 Grand Prix Freestyle championship with a score of almost 75%, and was reserve Grand Prix Open champion the following day. “That was a really amazing, spiritual experience,” Tate says of that freestyle ride, “because of the love I felt from everybody for my comeback. Even before they rang the bell, people were cheering. Derby didn’t put a foot wrong. We were transcended to a different existence.” Tate capped her comeback at the US Dressage Finals that November, placing fourth with Derby in the GP Open championship and eighth in the GP Freestyle Open championship.

44 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

When USDF Connection caught up with Tate, she was in Florida for the 2022 winter season, as busy as ever competing three FEI horses and running her online Team Tate Academy. In a way, Tate says, her cancer diagnosis has brought a new richness to her life. “I’m enjoying every day on a deeper level,” she says, “and feel like every day I have an opportunity to make my life better. It’s really recalibrated my system. I’m in a better mindset, too. Releasing control has been a good exercise for me.” Tate credits the equestrian ethos and the dressage community with helping her through the tough times. “Ashley Perkins and Jessica Davis are my assistant riders and really helped with keeping the horses in shape. I couldn’t have bounced back without their help, and I’m really grateful,” she says. “You need grit and resilience, and I think all my experience with horses has helped me come through this with grace and strength.”

Comeback Story: Spinal Injury and a Heart Attack Dressage wunderkind Todd Flettrich grabbed headlines when he won individual gold and team silver medals at the 1991 FEI North American Young Riders Championships (now NAYC). A protégé of Olympian Jessica Ransehousen, Flettrich went on to coach Mary Alice Malone Jr. and Catherine Malone to their own slew of NAYRC medals in the early 2000s. He reached the international spotlight when he rode Cherry Knoll Farm’s Otto for Team USA at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky. In


2012, Flettrich and Otto qualified as alternates for the London Olympic US dressage team. Now based in Florida, he is the longtime coach of Cherry Knoll Farm owner and Grand Prix-level rider Margaret Duprey, and he also coached champion US para-dressage competitor Rebecca Hart at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. His star seemed securely on the rise when in 2015 Flettrich, now 52, broke his back in a fall from a young horse. He fractured two vertebrae, and doctors injected a cement-type material to strengthen the weakened area. He says the procedure was nearly as painful as the original injury, but the recovery was quicker than surgery, so he was able to return to riding just six weeks later, after some lingering nerve pain subsided. “For the first couple of weeks, I was in a body brace,” Flettrich recalls. “I couldn’t get out of bed without help; going to the toilet was a job!” Now, he says, “I have a better understanding of people who have fear in the saddle. I started in the gym and working out in the pool, but my body really hurt. When I started riding [again], I wasn’t afraid, but I was stiff as a board, not flexible, and it was difficult.” Flettrich was still working to regain his previous level of fitness when in 2017 he suffered another serious health setback. He recounts the sequence of events: “I’d just come back from Germany, where I’d been riding and showing. We had a horrendous trip home, with bad weather and issues with the paperwork. I flew home with the horses and my groom on Thursday, and that Sunday I had a heart attack. I’d been having cramps, maybe from dehydration, and was a little dizzy and clammy, and had a

pain in my arm. I went to the barn and rode six horses anyway, and I was supposed to have a late lunch in West Palm [Beach, Florida]. I called the people I was meeting and asked them to take me to the hospital instead. I was dizzy and clammy, and my stomach was extremely upset. I had no idea it was a heart attack.” His friends drove Flettrich to the ER, where the results of an EKG and some tests led doctors to believe that he was not experiencing a cardiac event. But blood work revealed that he had, in fact, suffered a heart attack that morning, and needed surgery right away to insert a stent in his artery. “The reason my stomach was so upset was that it was the artery closest to the stomach,” Flettrich says. “If you’re going to have a heart attack, that’s a good place to have one. It was caused by a buildup of iron in my system: I have hemochromatosis, which is basically a disorder where your body doesn’t get rid of iron. My iron levels were 1350 and should be around 150. I had to do a treatment where they removed blood every week to normalize my iron levels. Now they check my blood regularly. Heart problems run in my family, but nobody had an iron problem. My dad had a heart attack in his sixties due to sleep apnea, and my sister at 37. My grandfather had one in his eighties.” By the fall of 2017, Flettrich was back to riding, competing, and teaching. He said his experience has made him sympathetic to people with medical setbacks. “It takes a lot out of you, but you have to get back on and ride again,” he says. “That’s healthy for you. And it makes you appreciate life.” Dressage may appear tamer as compared to some other equestrian

STILL TICKING: Successfully recovered from a broken back and a heart attack, 2010 World Equestrian Games Team USA dressage competitor Todd Flettrich rides Dancing Girl B (Dancier x Rubin Royal), owned by Cherry Knoll Farm, at the October 2021 World Equestrian Center Dressage IV show in Ocala, Florida

sports, but any equine activity carries a certain amount of risk and puts wear and tear on the rider’s body. Dressage also requires discipline and perseverance, so it’s no surprise that the riders in this story—and countless others like them—have utilized that determination to get them back in the saddle and enjoying life with horses.

Amber Heintzberger grew up riding and competing and has traveled the world thanks to horses and equine journalism. She works as a freelance writer, photographer, and author and lives in South Orange, New Jersey, with her family.



Fashion Forward With the attire rules busted wide open, we wondered what dressage competitors are doing with their newfound freedom. Enjoy this “look book” and get inspired. BY JENNIFER O. BRYANT PHOTOGRAPHS BY SUSANJSTICKLE.COM

STUDY IN CONTRAST: Farao Santana’s striking coat color is set off by rider Bethany Buchanan’s dark palette: jacket with understated bling accents, gloves, and breeches

46 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION


ressage competitors have been edging away from the black-and-white “uniform” for some time. Muted hues—think navy blues, hunter greens, and burgundies—have been creeping onto the scene, sometimes with boots and helmets to match. But until US Equestrian overhauled the attire rule for national-level competition (“Collection,” January/February), there was no getting away from the light-colored breeches and the limited color choices. The new rule (USEF DR 120) isn’t entirely “anything goes,” but the options are now a whole lot broader— permitted colors, certain patterns in jackets, and even breeches, which are now OK in almost any color not deemed “bright.” Competitors have been clamoring for a less-restrictive attire rule for years, so naturally we wondered whether there’s been a retail stampede to overhaul those show-clothes wardrobes. The answer thus far appears to be: Not entirely. Judging by what went down center line in Florida this past winter season, the majority of riders appear to be sticking with their perfectly good existing show attire, white breeches and all, at least for now. We suspect that may change over time, as items wear out and trends and technologies evolve. But the lens of well-known dressage photographer Sue Stickle still managed to capture a number of fashion-forward competitors who are embracing the new leeway and creating a show-ring look that’s distinctly individual. Here are some of the combinations that caught our eye. Enjoy this “look book,” and use it to jump-start ideas about your own show-ring presentation, this season or down the road. [ USDF CONNECTION | May/June 2022


MANY COLORS OF COATS: Rebecca Lord changes up her look on Demetrius, going from a magenta shadbelly with black collar and points to a mid-toned green with navy collar accented with metallic braid. She complements each look with matching accents: for the magenta coat, a black helmet, magenta-and-white stock tie, and maroon croco-leather boot tops and piping; and for the green coat, a navy helmet, navy-and-white stock tie, and green croco-leather boot tops and piping.

SHADES OF GRAY: Amina Bursese on C Discreto keeps it fairly traditional, but her flattering gray shadbelly and her horse’s matching gray fly bonnet still stand out from the black and navy majority.

48 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

COLOR CONTRAST: Melanie Cerny goes head-to-toe navy with helmet, jacket, breeches, and boots, while mount Scaramouche sports a matching cranberry saddle pad and fly bonnet. The rider’s boots tie the look together with their cordovan tops and navy shafts of textured leather.

STANDOUT: Jana Reich on Florida DN tops an otherwise classic ensemble with a striking teal short jacket with burnt-orange collar, piping, buttons, and lining.

B&W WITH A DIFFERENCE: Deann Hammer on Jota inverts the traditional black-on-top, white-on-the-bottom dressage silhouette with a jackets-waived outfit of white shirt and black breeches. Silver accents on her helmet, belt, and boot tops elevate the presentation from “everyday schooling” to show-ring special.

POP OF COLORS: Another teal jacket, but the effect is quite different with this horse’s palomino coat color. Maya Ilada rides Golden Surprise. Maya’s jacket features white piping and collar trim, and large “bling” buttons. She pairs the look with an understated black helmet and black boots with croco-print tops and a row of bling.



The Ultimate Rider Award Meet a few of the riders who have earned USDF’s new Diamond Achievement Recognition



50 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION


ider awards—the bronze, silver, and gold medals and freestyle bars—are USDF’s most popular awards and among its best known. In 2021 alone, 1,045 medals and bars were awarded—the highest number ever in a single competition year. The rider medals are the oldest awards program in USDF history, with the first ones distributed in 1974, just one year after the organization’s founding. Reflecting the growing popularity of dressage freestyle, freestyle bars were added to the awards roster in 2002. Both rider medals and freestyle bars recognize achievement “through the levels” (see the 2022 USDF Member Guide or visit for details, rules, and requirements). Two keys to these awards’ popularity and longevity: Scores earned never expire, and a competitor can earn scores aboard multiple horses. Many riders take pride in earning multiple medals and freestyle bars over the years, and some competitors have amassed the entire set of six medals and bars. To honor those riders who have earned their bronze, silver, and gold rider medals and their bronze, silver, and gold freestyle bars, the USDF Awards Committee created the Diamond Achievement Recognition. At the end of the 2021 competition year, the inaugural group of 67 riders was recognized for this achievement. Let’s meet a few members of the first crop of Diamond Achievement Recognition recipients and learn about their journeys to this crowning USDF rider award.


Goals and Aspirations “For me, the medals were benchmarks,” says adult-amateur competitor Johnny Robb, of Wellington, Florida, a USDF member since 1992 and owner of the equestrianfocused marketing and PR firm JRPR. “Having the medal goals helps riders gauge their journey.” “What’s special about the medals journey,” Robb adds, “is that you are in it with so many others. To this day, I enjoy hearing that someone got their final score for their medal.” Some competitors find the rider medals a moreattainable goal because “you do not have a time limit on the achievement, and you can ride any horse,” Robb says. “As amateurs, most of us have careers, families, and other things in our lives that may stall the journey, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come back to it. In addition, if a horse gets hurt, you can pursue the medal and

CELEBRATION RIDE: Johnny Robb aboard her Zerbino Interagro after receiving her USDF gold medal

freestyle-bar goal on an alternate horse, or wait until your horse is well to continue your quest.” Among the first riders to be awarded all the medals and bars needed for the Diamond Achievement Recognition is Heather Mason. The dressage pro from Lebanon, New Jersey, had earned all of the necessary scores by the early 1990s, long before the freestyle bars were even created. Although she estimates that she’s re-earned all of the scores aboard the 14 horses that she’s trained to the Grand Prix level (including Lincoln RTF, with whom she won the Intermediate II Open and Grand Prix Open championships at the 2021 USDF Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®), her first medals partner was Limerick, a Polish Trakehner mare purchased for her as a two-and-a-half-year-old by her parents when she was just 13. “I started competing Limerick as a four-year-old and had the Grand Prix and freestyle scores completed when she was 12,” Mason recalls. “Limerick was a real ‘chestnut mare.’ She taught me patience and perseverance. At most levels with her, I was struggling to just break 55%! At first, she was very tense and unpredictable at the shows. Achieving a 60% was always a big deal.”

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough Diamond Achievement Recognition recipient Olivia Chapeski had to climb mountains—literally—to achieve her dressage goals. Chapeski’s home base of Missoula, Montana, is surrounded by five mountain ranges, and “the primary obstacle was, and still is, traveling long distances to shows,” she says. In recent years, the closest USEFlicensed/USDF-recognized dressage competition has been 130 miles away, but usually Chapeski has to traverse at least two states, two mountain passes, and about 200 miles to reach a show grounds. [ USDF CONNECTION | May/June 2022


“The show season in Montana is awfully short, and the shows that aren’t ten hours away are limited,” Chapeski says. “You’ve got to make the hay while the sun shines.” Chapeski viewed earning her USDF rider medals and freestyle bars as “icing on the cake” and realized that the process couldn’t be rushed. “Given the scope of it all, it seemed like something that couldn’t be accomplished with anything

but patience and time,” she says. It ended up taking her 15 years and four horses to complete the Diamond Achievement, beginning with a Quarter Horse mare, Blac Harmonee, and finishing with an Azteca gelding, Indro, that she still owns and rides today. “The only real disappointment” in Chapeski’s medal and bar quest, she says, “was not being able to finish my gold bar on my first Grand Prix horse, Joust, who earned me

TREASURED PARTNER: Olivia Chapeski and her first Grand Prix horse, Joust, in 2008. It was aboard Joust that she earned the scores for her silver and gold medals.

52 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

It Takes a Village For some riders, the list of horses that helped them earn their medals and bars traces the arc of their dressage careers from youth to the open ranks. Reese Koffler (now KofflerStanfield), of Georgetown, Kentucky, was just 15 when she earned her USDF bronze medal aboard “my childhood horse, Vivat. My silver medal I earned during my youngrider career with my schoolmaster, Leraar, and with Joery, who was the first horse I trained to Grand Prix. “Earning my gold medal was extremely special,” she continues. “I had lost a young horse, and I felt that my career was over until my friend Jennifer Conour let me ride her wonderful horse, Fascination. He showed me that I could be an FEI rider, and that was a turning point in my career,” says KofflerStanfield, who is now a USDF-certified instructor/trainer through the FEI levels and a successful FEI-level competitor. Many supporters may play a role in helping riders to reach their goals. Another who contributed to KofflerStanfield’s success is her “amazing client, Pam McKee, who allowed me


FIRST OF MANY: The first time Heather Mason cantered down center line for the Grand Prix was aboard her Polish Trakehner mare, Limerick. They’re pictured at the FEI North American Young Riders Championships (now NAYC) in 1988.

my silver and gold medals. I recently lost him at the grand old age of 30, and one of the many things I thanked him for was helping me earn those medals. I only managed to get one of my gold-bar scores with him. He was never quite competitive enough to get that 65 percent, though not for lack of trying. So despite earning my first gold-bar score in 2004, it wasn’t until 2017, when the next Grand Prix horse was into his second year at the level, that I finished getting all the scores. It was a long wait!”

Diamond Achievement Recognition Fast Facts


SDF Diamond Achievement Recognition celebrates the achievements of those dressage competitors who have been awarded their USDF bronze, silver, and gold rider medals and their USDF bronze, silver, and gold freestyle bars. USDF tracks this accomplishment, so there’s no paperwork required! If you are eligible, you will receive an e-mail notifying you of your status at the conclusion of the competition year. There is no cost to receive Diamond Achievement Recognition. Diamond Achievement Recognition consists of a certificate of achievement, a letter of recognition, a special lapel pin, listing in the yearbook issue of USDF Connection and on the USDF website, the rider’s name engraved on a plaque that is housed at the USDF National Education Center, and an icon on the rider’s dashboard on the USDF website. To learn more about this and other USDF awards programs, including rider medals and freestyle bars, see the USDF website or the current USDF Member Guide.


TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK: Reese Koffler-Stanfield riding Marques WEC, her partner for the USDF bronze freestyle bar; and horse owner Pam McKee

to ride her horse, Marques WEC, to my First and Second Level scores” for the bronze freestyle bar. “She embraced my goal, and we worked together on those freestyles. It was lots of fun for both of us.” “When I started riding, the rider medals were my ultimate goal,” Koffler-Stanfield says. “The Diamond Achievement Recognition truly illustrates my entire career as a rider.” In Johnny Robb’s case, it took a coach who was willing to let her take risks, a bit of a push from a legendary dressage master, and a little sport psychology to get her to the finish line. Robb had earned her bronze and silver medals by 1999 and her bronze and silver freestyle bars by 2004. She knew that “going for the gold was the biggest hump” and quips: “I asked myself: Will I live long enough to get this done?” Robb’s horse Zerbino Interagro had competed at Intermediate level and “had a lovely piaffe and passage,” she says, but “I never felt

ready to do the Grand Prix with him, especially without confirmed one-tempis.” But in a lesson, the late German-born master Walter Zettl “told me to start showing in the Grand Prix. He told me that neither I nor my horse would be getting any younger, and the time was now! ‘You have enough of the Grand Prix movements with this lovely horse, dear. Don’t worry; you will learn more in the ring,” Robb recalls Zettl saying. Spurred by Zettl’s encouragement, “I came home and announced to my trainer, John Zopatti, that I would now be entering the Grand Prix and going for my gold medal. He looked shocked and joked that we weren’t doing my first Grand Prix in Wellington!” Robb says. After earning an eligible score, “my goal of a gold medal was so close, I knew what I had to do next. I visited my go-to hypnosis performance coach, Laura King. In a single session, she helped me realize and overcome my block. Two weeks later, I laid down my first perfect sequence of 15 onetempis ever in the show ring.” Chapeski also has supporters to thank. One is Washington

state-based trainer Kari McClain, Chapeski’s instructor for 30 years. “Kari has been coming to clinic at our barn on a regular basis since I was eight,” Chapeski says, “and she ultimately was the force who gave me the knowledge and resources to pursue everything dressage-related in my career.” Chapeski is also grateful for her father, fellow USDF bronze, silver, and gold medalist Robert Chapeski, “who schlepped me around to shows for so many years.” Class of 2021 Diamond Achievement Recognition recipients, we salute you! For more information about this new USDF awards program, see “Diamond Achievement Recognition Fast Facts” above.

USDF Awards Committee chair and avid adult-amateur competitor Amy Swerdlin is a USDF bronze, silver, and gold medalist and a USEF “r” dressage judge. She is part-owner and manager of the 320-stall Palm Beach Equine Sport Complex in Wellington, Florida.



Tack Shop Upgrade Your Ride Smart, sleek solutions for spring

Joint + Hoof Support

Letters of Distinction Give your outdoor dressage arena a modern, weather-resistant, ecofriendly makeover with Lavender Fields’ artisan steel letters. The 12" x 12" matte black letters are powdercoated for UV protection and durability in all weather conditions, even salty environments. Letters stay put mounted on eight-inch stakes. Learn more:

The Cosequin family of oral joint supplements has long been a trusted brand. Manufacturer Nutramax Laboratories Veterinary Sciences Inc. now offers Cosequin ASU Joint & Hoof Pellets for horses, adding hoof support to its research-backed joint support. The secret sauce in the jointsupport ingredients is a scientifically researched combination of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate paired with avocado/soybean unsaponifiables (ASU), which has been shown to be more effective in reducing the breakdown of cartilage than glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate alone. Nutramax Labs has added biotin, copper, zinc, and the essential amino acids methionine and lysine for comprehensive hoof support, all in a tiny, highly palatable pellet. Learn more:

54 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

Sharp-Dressed Horseman Gentlemen, show your love of horses with added patriotic flair when you wear this eye-catching tie from Lilo Collections. White horses canter across wide navy stripes while navy horseshoes are scattered across the red and white stripes. This tie would also make a great gift for the supportive “horse husband” in your life. Learn more:

Help Your Horse Manage Heat Stress Better than electrolytes? BioZyme Inc. says that an addition to its Vitalize line of natural horse-health products

MARK YOUR CALENDARS is a next-generation solution to helping horses deal with heat stress. Vitalize Blazin’ is a liquid product formulated to support normal recovery from heat stress and exertion, recommended for use during times of elevated exercise or performance, when the heat index exceeds 90 degrees, or when a horse is acclimating to a new climate. Top-dressed on feed, Vitalize Blazin’ contains a proprietary blend of L-arginine, L-citrulline, and Aspergillus oryzae to support blood flow and cooling. The product also promotes water retention and contains antioxidants to mitigate damaging free radicals caused by exertion and heat exposure. Learn more:

“Tack Shop” contains notices of new products judged to be of potential interest to USDF members. Information and images are supplied by manufacturers. Inclusion of an item does not constitute an endorsement or a product review.

Nov. 10–13, 2022 Kentucky Horse Park Compete in a national, head-to-head championship, Training Level through Grand Prix; adult amateur and open divisions. Training through Fourth Level (non-freestyle) Jr/YR Classes

For more information visit USDF CONNECTION | May/June 2022


Unlike electronic devices, our books are laminated, always reliable, readable in bright sun or rain, with directional arena diagrams and formatted in big print for callers . for more information

T ay l o r S e l e c T


This is America’s Breed


Dressage Test Books






This is America’s Breed for more information


HorSe Bedding Mention this ad and receive $100 off of your first semi load


S elect the BeSt 815.601.3002 call / text / email SHIPPING NATIONWIDE




T ay l o r S e l e c T

HorSe Bedding Mention this ad and receive $100 off of your first semi load


S elect the BeSt 815.601.3002 call / text / email SHIPPING NATIONWIDE

56 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION






The Ipos Rein Sensors measure rein tension on the left and right side, giving equestrians insights to improve performance. Achieve lightness and symmetry with the Ipos Rein Sensors, and quantify the ‘equestrian feel’!

Demos and more info about the FREE Online Coaches Course available on our website

Rain or Shine


USDF Golf Umbrella –$22.95

USDF Wicking Two-Color Polo – $44.95

USDF DRESSAGE Jacket – $69.95 Men and Women's sizes available

order online at USDF CONNECTION | May/June 2022



Phone: (859) 971-2277, Fax: (859) 971-7722, E-mail: Accounting...................................................................................... (859) 271-7891.........................


Address and E-mail Updates...................................................... (859)

July/August 2021

Adult Education Programs ......................................................... (859) 271-7882.......................... All-Breeds Awards ........................................................................ (859) Applications Submitted at Competitions................................. (859) 271-7880........................... Breeder Championship Series................................................... (859)

Official Publication of the United States Dressage Federation



Buyer’s Guide to the Prepurchase Exam (p. 44)

Demographics and Statistics...................................................... (859) 271-7083....................................

Handling GMO Conflict (p. 20) Raise Your Training Standards with Sue Blinks (p. 30)

Donations........................................................................................ (859) GMO Education Initiative............................................................. (859) 271-7876..........................

Dr. Hilary Clayton on Donzi MC

Group Membership....................................................................... (859) Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Awards.................. (859) 271-7873......................... Horse Performance Certificates................................................ (859) 971-7361........... Horse Registration......................................................................... (859) Human Resources/Career Opportunities................................ (859) 271-7885.........................................

L Education and Continuing Education................................... (859) 971-7039............................ Licensed Official Education........................................................ (859) Mailing Lists.................................................................................... (859) 971-7038.......................... Musical Freestyle........................................................................... (859) NAYC Criteria and Procedures.................................................. (859) 971-7317..................................... Nominations – Delegates, Regional Directors...................... (859) Participating and Business Memberships............................... (859) Prize List Questions...................................................................... (859) Regional Championships Program........................................... (859) Rider Awards.................................................................................. (859) Safe Sport........................................................................................ (859) Score Corrections......................................................................... (859) 271-7895............. Secretary/Manager Services ..................................................... (859) Show Results.................................................................................. (859) Sponsorship Opportunities......................................................... (859) Sport Horse Education and Programs..................................... (859) Store Merchandise........................................................................ (859) University Accreditation and Credit Check............................ (859) (859) USEF/USDF Dressage Seat Medal Program & Semi-Finals....(859)-971-7317......................................... Year-End Awards........................................................................... (859) Young Rider Graduate Program................................................ (859) Youth Education and Programs................................................. (859)

For specific staff contacts visit the USDF Web site.

58 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION


Junior/Young Rider Clinics.......................................................... (859)


Insurance Certificates for Competitions.................................. (859) 271-7886.............................

Lebanon Junction, KY Permit # 559

Instructor Certification.................................................................. (859) 271-7877.....

USDF Connection wants YOU to be a contributor. Here’s how. Air Your Views

USDF Connection welcomes letters to the editor. Please send your digital submission by e-mail to jbryant@ Please include your hometown, state, and daytime telephone number. We’ll publish letters as space allows; all submissions are subject to editing. Unsigned letters will not be considered, although writers may request that their names be withheld. All letters become the property of USDF.

Ask a Question

Do you have a dressage- or USDFrelated question? Send it to “FAQ” and you may get an expert response in a future issue of USDF Connection. Send your question, along with your full name, hometown, state, and daytime telephone number to Include “FAQ” in the subject line of your message.


ADVERTISING INDEX Auburn Laboratories, 8 Bates Saddles/ Saddlery Brands Intl. front cover Equine Equus 1 Great American Insurance 5 IPOS 57 Kentucky Performance back cover Lemke Saddle 57


Lindinhof Equine Sports


Platinum cover Rider Shooting Star Farm 57 SLADS August Classic I & Sox For

United States Dressage Federation Official Page

Sporthorse 57 TaylorSelect Horse The Dehner The Dressage United States Lipizzan


USDF Adult Amateur Equitation Regional Finals ...................................................................................... 17 Adult & Youth Programs......................................................................................................................25 All-Breeds Participating Organizations.............................................................................................. 9 Arts Contest...........................................................................................................................................16


Breeders Championship Series...........................................................................................................11 Circle of Friends...................................................................................................................................28 Convention............................................................................................................................................ 38 Dresage Seat Medal Semi-Finals......................................................................................................29 Member Perks Partners...................................................................................................................7, 10

USDF Vimeo

Regional Championships...............................................................................................................30-31 Store Merchandise............................................................................................................................... 57 University................................................................................................................................................15


US Dressage Finals..............................................................................................................................55, 24



My Dressage The Pressure to Succeed Dressage pro Lauren Chumley had to learn that failure is part of the process. Today she passes that message along to students and clients alike.

BIG STAGE: Lauren Chumley rides her KWPN mare, Leeloo Dallas (Gaspard de la Nuit ­­– Voque, Negro), at the 2021 US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan®

Chumley has not always been this philosophical about the reversals of life. “I like to tell people I have failed on the biggest stages. My first [Dressage at] Devon, I went when I shouldn’t have gone. I had this really difficult horse. He was the love of my life, but he was incredibly difficult. Hardest horse I ever rode in my life, still, to this date. I went in the

CDI at Devon, and he’s very noisesensitive, and he was a psychopath. He reared in the pirouette. He ran away. I literally almost fell off. It was hilarious. I got straight ones from the judges. I got something like a 54 [percent]. I was last. “I was so embarrassed,” Chumley continues. “This was years ago. Somebody took a video of my ride and posted it on YouTube as along the lines of ‘The Worst Dressage I’ve Ever Seen.’ Yeah, I was cyberbullied before it was cool. I was mortified. I’m thinking, ‘I’m never gonna recover from this. This is the end of my career.’ And guess what? Nobody cares. If you can help the person that’s in front of you [taking a lesson], that’s what matters….I have a 40-stall barn in New Jersey, and it is full.” Chumley conveys this grace to her students. “I have a working student who is about to do her first Prix St. Georges on a self-trained horse. She’s extremely nervous, as it’s a big step. I’ve been trying to tell her not to put a ton of pressure on herself because I really believe that a big part of a rider/trainer’s development is being allowed to fail so that you can learn.” Accordingly, “I try not to put too much pressure on my students and working students when they show,” Chumley says. “They are their only competition. Even when a working student shows my personal horses, I tell them it doesn’t matter if they get a bad score. No one will be upset. I think allowing them that room to breathe is very important.” Chumley herself is grateful for that breathing room, saying that she’s “been very lucky to have clients and owners who understand and

60 May/June 2022 | USDF CONNECTION

have allowed me the space to learn and grow.” That space doesn’t just materialize, Chumley stresses. “I think a big part of being a professional is managing client expectations. Everybody wants to win. Everyone’s spending a lot of money. I don’t say to the lady with the really nice German Riding Pony, ‘You know what, we’re gonna win the championships.’ I’m not going to win. He’s been doing Grand Prix for three months….[B]eing very open and honest in your communication with your clients, it’s important.” When both trainer and client have realistic expectations, Chumley says, it makes for more-positive experiences—and more satisfaction with the horse, too. Of that green Grand Prix pony, she says, “The fact that we got there [to the championship show] is awesome. That was the goal, to qualify, and we qualified. I had one really decent ride that I was pleased with and one ride that wasn’t so good….My owner was wonderful. She was like, ‘You know what? We set a goal, and you made it. Anything past that was icing, and we’ll just do it again next year. We’ll set new goals.’” “So you come back again and try again. You just have to keep trying. I think that’s the most important thing—that you just keep trying, and you keep moving forward, and you have people around you that support that. Because that’s the only way to learn.”

Katherine Walcott is a freelance writer based in Alabama.



o encounter Lauren Chumley is to experience a friendly, polite turbojet. For instance, she uses the time during our evening phone interview to take one of the horses she has in training at her facility in Pittstown, New Jersey—an event horse, by the way—for a walk. That’s right—an event horse with a Grand Prix-level dressage trainer/rider. Chumley says she’s not afraid to be bold, and she’s also not afraid to fail. “I don’t get embarrassed any more because I recognize that we’re all out there trying to figure it out,” she says.

By Katherine Walcott

The Horse That Matters to You Matters to Us®


Dehydration, electrolyte depletion


Summer Games® Electrolyte • Replenishes the electrolytes and trace minerals lost during sweating. • Stimulates the thirst response to keep horses drinking. • Supports quick recovery after competing in hot, humid conditions. Satisfaction guaranteed. USDF 2021 May/June, 859-873-2974

Simple Solutions, Scientifically Proven®

Complete Joint Support

To Maintain Soundness & Longevity Overall Wellness

Advanced Joint Support

A wellness formula with all the benefits of Platinum Performance® Equine, designed to support your horse from head to hoof.

Includes a powerful combination of ingredients to support healthy cartilage, joint lubrication and a normal inflammatory response for joint longevity.


Show Safe

More than 30 veterinary research projects have supported the effectiveness and development of Platinum formulas.

All formulas are subjected to extensive testing for over 200 banned substances for horse safety and athlete protection.



We choose quality and efficacy over low-cost ingredients, ensuring formula protection, potency and purity.

Developed by veterinarians in clinical practice, to ensure results in horses from Olympic contenders to pet ponies.

Platinum Colic Coverage™ Eligible

Platinum Performance CJ

Recommended for:


The Only Formula of Its Kind

• Performance horses and prospects • Horses with joint health needs • Horses with soft tissue concerns • Senior horses

As the most comprehensive combination of joint supporting ingredients available, Platinum Performance® CJ contains omega-3 fatty acids, ASU (Avocado/Soy Unsaponifiables), HA (Hyaluronic Acid), cetyl myristoleate, MSM, Boswellia 800-553-2400 serrata and more to helpPerformance® maintain soundness. Platinum formulas are only available from your licensed equine veterinarian or direct from Platinum Performance®. © 2022 PLATINUM PERFORMANCE, INC.

Platinum formulas are only available from your veterinarian or direct from Platinum Performance®.

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.